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Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art collections

The Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art has two collections: the Kuntsi Foundation Art Collection and the Swanljung Collection.

The Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art’s collections have been built through the work of two collectors. Consul Simo Kuntsi and dentist Lars Swanljung represent the younger generation in the chain of collectors in Vaasa. They both later moved to Helsinki but spent their childhood and youth in Vaasa. Their homes were a supportive environment for cultural interests. Simo Kuntsi had an early interest in visual arts, while Lars Swanljung had music and films close to his heart. Before them, there were several people in Vaasa who had made their private collections available to the residents of the city. The role models were close at hand: Simo Kuntsi’s father, Kaarlo Kuntsi, belonged to the same entrepreneurial and cultural circles as Frithjof Tikanoja, while Simo Kuntsi belonged to Swanljung’s childhood family. Swanljung only started collecting art after Simo Kuntsi’s death. As both were particularly interested in the artists of their time, the collections complement each other perfectly chronologically. They both collected both Finnish and foreign art. As collectors, they share an interest in artists at the beginning of their careers.

Art collection of the Kuntsi Foundation

The art collection of the Kuntsi Foundation contains nearly 900 works. The heart of the collection is the art collected and donated to the Foundation by Consul Simo Kuntsi (1913-1984). The collection includes paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures.

The oldest works in the collection date from the early 20th century. Simo Kuntsi was initially interested in older artists, such as Tuomas von Boehm, Ina Colliander and Ragnar Ekelund, as well as artists from the Nordic countries such as Nandor Mikola, Eero Nelimarkka, Eemu Myntti and Einari Uusikylä.

Most of the works in the collection date from the 1960s and 1980s. Simo Kuntsi bought the first works by Kauko Lehtinen in 1964 from Kauko Lehtinen’s private exhibition. Kuntsi bought Lehtinen’s work steadily throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Other artists in the Finnish collection include Juhani Harri, Kimmo Kaivanto, Juhani Linnovaara, Pentti Lumikangas, Marika Mäkelä, Gunnar Pohjola, and Kain Tapper.

The foreign art collection consists mainly of paintings and prints. Already in the 1950s, Kuntsi was drawn to the modern art he saw in Paris. In addition to French art, Kuntsi was interested in art from many other countries. Among the foreign artists, Roland Oudot, André Brasilier, Fernando Botero, David Hockney, Joan Miró, and Antoni Tàpies can be mentioned.

The Kuntsi Foundation’s acquisitions in the 2000s include works by, for example, Jukka Rusanen, Maiju Salmenkivi, and Marita Liulia. The latest major addition to the Kuntsi Foundation’s collection is a set of over 100 works by Carl Wargh.

The Kuntsi Foundation’s art collection is owned by the Kuntsi Foundation, and managed by the Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art.

Swanljung Collection

The Swanljung Collection consists of more than 900 works by nearly 400 artists, collected by Lars Swanljung, a dentist.

His art collecting began in the late 1980s, when Lars Swanljung and his wife Outi Swanljung acquired works by American pop artists Jim Dine and Roy Lichtenstein. Among the foreign art, Nordic art is the strongest, with works by Anne Katrine Dolven, Ernst Billgren, Georg Guðni, Kristján, and Sigurður Guðmundsson, Hulda Hákon, Olav Christopher Jensen and Ulf Rollof.

In terms of numbers, the collection is dominated by Finnish art. Swanljung started out collecting works by artists of his own generation, but soon turned his attention to artists at the beginning of their careers. Swanljung acquired contemporary art without prejudice. He was particularly attracted to art that was low-key and intellectual. The collection includes paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture, photography, and video art. The collection includes works by artists such as Kari Cavén, Elina Brotherus, Carolus Enckell, Aaron Heino, Heli Hiltunen, Pasi Karjula, Pertti Kekarainen, Janne Kiiskilä, Martti Jämsä, Jussi Niva, Paul Osipow, Silja Rantanen, Pentti Sammallahti, Marianne Uutinen, Marko Vuokola and Hannu Väisänen.

Lars Swanljung donated his collection to his hometown of Vaasa in 2018. In addition to the artworks, the museum received a donation of archival material related to the collection and Swanljung’s extensive art library.