Collection Harry Kivijärvi

Serlachius Museum Gösta’s Pavilion includes the Kivijärvi Hall, a space named after the sculptor Harry Kivijärvi (1931–2010). The Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation seeks in this way to honour the memory of the artist and to express its thanks for the significant donation of works it received from his estate in spring 2012, which includes 24 Kivijärvi sculptures from the period 1966–1987 as well as 64 works from his own art collection. The works are known collectively as the Harry Kivijärvi Collection and sculptures belonging to it are currently displayed in the gardens of Joenniemi Manor. 

The sculptures located in the gardens of Joenniemi Manor are examples of Kivijärvi’s characteristic non-representational forms, sculpted from black stone, whose carefully worked surfaces alternate between smoothly polished areas and sections that have been left rough.

Kivijärvi’s sculptures can be characterised as serial; the artist was clearly attracted to certain forms and constructions to which he returned in his works again and again. One form that recurs in Kivijärvi’s works can be seen in the sculpture On the Nile (1979), in which a fan-shaped upper part resting upon of narrow and high stone has been given a shape resembling a billowing sail. This graceful sculptural theme was inspired by the felucca sailing boats seen by the artist of a trip to Egypt.

It has been said, somewhat mistakenly, that Kivijärvi’s sculptures were inspired by nature. It is true that Kivijärvi valued natural materials in his work, and the forms of the works appear to grow organically straight out of the ground. Nevertheless, his most significant inspiration was the built environment. The recurring elements in Kivijärvi’s works may be compared to the rules followed in classical architecture, such as in the column system.

In addition, Kivijärvi was deeply interested in art tradition. He addressed classical themes in his works and made his own interpretations of them. The same interest is also reflected in his own art collection, which includes, among other things, old European art from the 14th-18th centuries as well as Finnish and French art from the late 19th century. By acquiring the works, the artist fed his own visual thinking.

Upon receiving the donation from the Kivijärvi estate, the Fine Arts Foundation acquired as complementary purchases 19 Kivijärvi works, of which most are from the early period of his career, as well as the so-called Egypt collection, which consists of 14 items. Together with the works of the Harry Kivijärvi Collection, they give a diverse picture of Kivijärvi’s activities, both as an artist and as an art collector.

Suvi-Mari Eteläinen

Harry Kivijärvi, On the Nile (detail), 1979, gabbro, Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation / Collection Harry Kivijärvi. Photo: Sampo Linkoneva.
Harry Kivijärvi, On the Nile (detail), 1979, gabbro, Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation / Collection Harry Kivijärvi. Photo: Sampo Linkoneva.