The artist home that was built in Etu-Töölö in Helsinki on funds from Juho and Maria Lallukka's will is an undeniably Finnish cultural monument. The renowned people who have painted and sculpted in the enclosure of the functional house range from Eero Nelimarkka to Viktor and Tove Jansson. HAM Helsinki Art Museum has opened an exhibition that highlights the history surrounding the home while at the same time opening up a wider view of artistic and societal phenomena.
There’s hardly any other building in the whole country that has housed as many famous artists: so far over 130 artists and a whole array of people representing music and performing arts have lived there. Even Tove Jansson spent her young years living in her father’s, sculptor Victor “Faffan” Jansson‘s studio apartment in Lallukka.
Lallukka – Life in the Home of Artists / HAM Helsinki Art Museum
The exhibition Lallukka – Life in the Home of Artists presents 43 visual artists who have lived in Lallukka and 61 pieces of art ranging from 1933 to today. Elina Merenmies, Inka Nieminen and Tommi Toija are among those representing modern artists from Lallukka. The Jansson family is represented in the exhibition through Tove’s oil painting Before the masquerade from 1943, as well as the first two numbers of the artist home’s magazine Naukuja, which were illustrated by Tove and her mother; graphical artist Signe Hammarsten-Jansson. The exhibition also shows a photograph that Tove’s brother Per Olov Jansson has taken of their father Viktor.
The exhibition has been curated by art historian Marja Lahelma, whose book on the same theme was released in October 2020. The book was published by Kustannusosakeyhtiö Parvs and can be purchased in HAM’s museum shop.
Hidden treasures discovered during renovation
The goal of Lallukka has been to act as a sanctuary for its inhabitants by offering peace of mind and opportunity to focus on art without distractions – the thought was always to have home and workplace under the same roof. This was implemented in the Jansson family and for the same reasons Moomin Characters, the company started by Tove and her brother Lars Jansson in the 1950’s, decided to donate 400 000 euros to the renovation and restoration of the artist home in 2014. The family had lived in Lallukka in varying groupings from the 1930’s onward to Faffan’s passing in 1958.
The renovation of Lallukka was carried out between 2012-2016 and revealed some treasures that had not been seen before. On the topmost shelf in the big office cabinet lay some handwritten magazines that had been collecting dust for decades – these turned out to be Naukuja magazines. Naukuja was published in four issues during the second world war and Tove Jansson illustrated issues 1., 2. and 4. together with her mother. The third issue was illustrated by artist Kaapo Wirtanen and the magazine’s editor in chief was opera singer Väinö Sola.