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Events April 2016


Artek and the Aaltos: Creating a Modern World

April 22, 2016
through September 25, 2016

Artek, whose name is a combination of “art” and “technology,” is a pioneering Modern design firm established in Finland in 1935 by Alvar and Aino Aalto, Maire Gullichsen, and Nils Gustav Hahl—a group that shared a progressive vision of the arts and a commitment to enhancing the cultural and social ideals of Modernism throughout the world. Now in its 80th year, the company will be featured in its first US exhibition, which opens in April at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery in Manhattan.

The exhibition will feature many works on view to the public for the first time, including: an unprecedented number of original architectural drawings provided by the Aalto Foundation, a recently discovered copy of Aino Aalto’s travel diary, long thought lost, which she kept in the months just before Artek was founded, and unpublished drawings for the Sunila Pulp Factory (1936–37), Villa Mairea (1938–39), Säynätsalo Town Hall (1950–52), and a site that has been on our radar, the Edgar J. Kaufmann Conference Center in New York (1961–63). Expanding upon the design role most commonly associated with Artek, the exhibition will include architectural commissions the company received independent of the Aaltos, such as the Helsinki Airport, as well as drawings and sketches for interiors and furniture, paintings, photography, furniture, glassware, lighting, and textiles. 

The exhibition will also shine light on the important roles played by a number of women critical to Artek’s success. These include Aino Marsio-Aalto’s contributions as an architect; Marie Gullichsen’s influence in bringing ideas of the Modern Movement to Finland; Maija Heikinheimo’s leadership as a designer and as successor to Marsio-Aalto as Art Director after Marsio-Aalto’s death in 1949; and Elissa Aalto, who married Alvar in 1952 and who was less involved with Artek but took a leading role in the Aaltos’ firm on projects such as the Kaufmann Conference Center and also helped to complete a number of projects after Alvar’s death in 1976.

Much of the exhibition’s material was unearthed by Bard Graduate Center’s Gallery Director Nina Stritzler-Levine, who spent almost two years doing research in the Artek and Alvar Aalto archives in Jyväskylä, Finland, as well as the Aalto family archives. The archival material has brought to light Artek’s extensive involvement in many of Alvar Aalto’s best known projects, such as the Baker House Dormitory at MIT (1946–48) and the Municipal Library in Viipuri, Finland (today Vyborg, Russia, 1934–35).

The Bard Center has organized a number of lectures and gallery tours to complement the exhibition, which will be posted on the DOCOMOMO Calendar and can also be found HERE

Group tours are offered Tuesday through Friday between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and Thursday until 7 p.m. Reservations are required. To schedule, call (212) 501-3013 or e-mail

April 22 – September 25
Bard Graduate Center Gallery
18 West 86th Street
Details HERE 

Top: Artek Store on Fabianinkatu, Helsinki, 1939. Photo courtesy Artek Collection, Alvar Aalto Museum. Bottom: Aino Marsio-Aalto and Alvar Aalto in the Artek-Pascoe showroom, New York, 1940. Photo by Herbert Matter.


Week of April 17th