New Moomin Artworks Unveiled
Houses of Tove Jansson is the first exhibition of its kind and largest in central Europe and France to explore the prolific life and career of the late Finnish artist and writer Tove Jansson—widely known as the creator of the Moomins. Opening in Paris, France, on 29th September during Paris Fashion Week and extending through Paris+, par Art Baselto 28th October, the exhibition is curated by The Community, a Parisian art institution, in collaboration with the artist’s estate and Moomin Characters. Houses of Tove Jansson will focus on the major cultural significance and the artistic output of Jansson, shedding light on her life story, literary and artistic work, and highlighting the universal and timeless themes of her oeuvre. For the first time, Jansson’s work will be in dialogue with work by contemporary artists.
Jansson excelled in many different literary and artistic forms, achieving early fame as a promising young painter and illustrator and, later, as the author of novels and short stories, poems, and plays for radio and theatre. Jansson’s approach to work, just like her approach to life, was wholehearted and vital. She would strive for originality and freshness while maintaining values that were both humane and inclusive.
Unfolding throughout a five-story Parisian townhouse, the exhibition explores the complexities of someone who created a set of her own rules as a female and queer artist operating in a male-dominated universe in the years before and after World War II. Starting with the early development of her visual language and narrative style, it will bring together key works that were turning points for her work, including a selection of Jansson’s paintings, drawings, illustrations, and texts, some of which will be on show for the first time. Giving visitors a window into Jansson’s fantasy universe, it will include early Moomin materials as well as early illustrations for other classic books such as Alice in Wonderland and The Hobbit.
As the creator behind the international phenomenon, the Moomins, the exhibition will explore multiple iterations of Moomin stories including theatre, comics, and merchandising. Jansson’s love of nature was a constant theme in her life and work, specifically, the sea that surrounded the Finnish island Klovharu where she spent her summers. On the fourth floor, the exhibition will focus on the archipelago, introducing Jansson’s second home which was a constant source of inspiration for her, and the setting for The Summer Book, a classic Nordic novel. It will also display recently discovered ephemera from her personal travels, such as drawings on hotel notepads, to provide a window into her contemporary world. Paris was also an important city for Jansson, where she studied art at École des Beaux-Arts and L’Atélier Holy, Paris, and visited throughout her lifetime, including with her life partner Tuulikki Pietilä, spending time in artist residencies and traveling the country.
“We’re thrilled to be working in partnership with The Community to bring the breadth of Tove’s creative output to new audiences and longtime admirers alike and invite visitors to follow along on her journeys from Helsinki to Paris and beyond. We look forward to sharing new discoveries from the archives with the world and inspiring a new generation of writers, artists and thinkers with Tove’s singular, life-long production,” said Thomas Zambra, Director of Business Development and James Zambra, Creative Director of Moomin Characters, descendants of Tove Jansson.
Alongside Jansson’s body of work, The Community has invited a group of contemporary artists who directly or indirectly share an affinity to Jansson’s work and life to reflect on her input today in their respective work, some creating new work that will debut for the exhibition. The selected group includes Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Anne Bourse, Emma Kohlmann, Elmgreen & Dragset, Ida Ekblad, Cerith Wyn Evans, Vidya Gastaldon and Carlotta Bailly-Borg.
“It is an honor to work with the entire archive of the Jansson Estateand present her significant body of work for the first time in France. We are equally excited to invite international contemporary art practitioners to connect with her legacy through newly commissioned and existing works. It is especially important to revisit Tove Jansson’s work in today’s context and understand the multigenerational connections that affirm the rooted values of Jansson, which bring hope and unite us all in her universe,” said co-curators Sini Rinne-Kanto and Tuukka Laurila of The Community.
Houses of Tove Jansson will be paired with a space for programming and a reading room complete with Jansson’s celebrated titles and a recreation of her personal library archived in Helsinki, creating a multidimensional experience in the world of Jansson. There will also be a boutique featuring new capsule collections made specifically for the exhibition.