“Alvar Aalto – Second Nature” is a major retrospective exhibition on this legendary architect and reveals many new aspects of his oeuvre. It is the first and the most important exhibition project to examine the achievement of Alvar Aalto since the last retrospective exhibition “Alvar Aalto Between Humanism and Materialism” held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1998. As a part of the international tour of the exhibition, “Alvar Aalto – Second Nature” in Japan also commemorates the 120th anniversary of the birth of Alvar Aalto in 1898 as well as the centennial of the Treaty of Amity between Finland and Japan conclude in 1919.
Alvar Aalto (1898–1976) is the best known Finnish architect of his generation and a chief proponent of a human-centered modernism. His buildings such as the Paimio Sanatorium (1933) or Villa Mairea (1939) embody a masterful interplay of organic volumes, forms and materials. Aalto’s Paimio Chair (1931–1932) and his Stool 60 (1933) were milestones in the development of modern furniture, and his emblematic Savoy Vase (1936) has become the symbol of Finnish Design.
It is true that Finnish nature and landscape was the origine of Aalto’s organic architectural language, but other aspects should also be examined. “Alvar Aalto – Second Nature” takes a new, more contemporary look at Aalto. The exhibition explores how Aalto’s affinity for organic form was mediated through a close dialogue with many artists of his time, such as László Moholy-Nagy, Jean Arp, Alexander Calder or Fernand Léger. Works of these and other artists are juxtaposed with Aaltos designs and buildings, illustrating his significance as a figurehead of the international art and architecture Avant-Garde from the 1920s onwards.
Aalto created living spaces that appear warm and organic, saturated with a masterful combination of volumes and building materials, terraced floors and ceilings, and a choreography of daylight and electric light — an environment which transformed inspirations from art and natural forms into a “second nature” for modern man.
From door handles and lighting fixtures to built-in furniture, Aalto frequently designed the interiors of his buildings down to the smallest detail.
Aalto’s prolific career spans a period from the early 1920s until the 1970s, spawning over 400 buildings and dozens of furniture pieces, glass objects and lights. It culminated with large-scale commissions like Finlandia Hall in Helsinki (1975), just one year prior to his death, and the Opera House in Essen, which was completed posthumously in 1988.
“Alvar Aalto – Second Nature” provides an extensive overview of Aalto’s life and work, including historical architectural models, original drawings, furniture, lights and glassware. The exhibition covers Aalto’s most iconic buildings and designs, but also lesser known projects like his Experimental House in Muuratsalo (1952-1953), an extraordinary composition of different materials which appears like a 21st century architectural collage. Based on the above mentioned concept, the exhibition shall consist of the five chapters entitled as follows:
- Elective Affinities
2. Multisensory Environments
3. Art and Life
4. BetteｒThings for Everyday Life
5. Architecture of Synthesis
The exhibition’s new perspective on Aalto is emphasized by the work of German artist Armin Linke, who has been commissioned to produce new photographs and films of selected buildings. Linke’s works appear throughout the entire exhibition setting, in dialogue with historic and archival material from the Alvar Aalto Foundation and other international lenders.
“Alvar Aalto – Second Nature” is an exhibition organized by the Vitra Design Museum and Alvar Aalto Museo. The exhibition tour in Japan is coordinated and organized by The Japan Association of Art Museums and the four host museums as well as The Yomiuri Shimbun.
Microsoft is the Global Sponsor of the traveling exhibition held in Europe and in Japan, while Artek and Iittala are its Sponsors. VItra Japan supports the exhibition tour in Japan as a local sponsor.
Aomori Museum of Art