Akseli Gallen Kallela Biography | Oil Paintings
4-26-1865 Pori, FIN – 3-7-1931 Stockholm, SWEBack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Akseli Gallen-Kallela was born Axel Waldemar Gallén to a Swedish-speaking family in Finland. His father opposed his ambition to become a painter, so only after his father's death in 1879, when Gallen-Kallela was fourteen years old, was he able to attended drawing classes at the Finnish Art Society and studied under Adolf von Becker.
In 1884 at nineteen years old, he decided to move to Paris, to study at the Académie Julian. In Paris, he became friends with the Finnish painter Albert Edelfelt and the Norwegian painter Adam Dörnberger.
He married in 1890 and on their honeymoon to East Karelia, Akseli Gallen-Kallela started collecting material for his depictions of the Kalevala (an epic verse compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Karelian and Finnish oral folklore). This period is characterized by romantic paintings of the Kalevala, like the Aino triptych, and by several landscape paintings.
In 1895, his daughter had died from diphtheria, this would prove to be a turning point in his work. While his works had before been sentimental, after his girl's passing Gallen-Kallela painted more forceful works like the Defense of the Sampo, Joukahainen's Revenge, Kullervo Cursing and Lemminkäinen's Mother.
On his return from Germany, Gallen studied print-making, then went to London for deeper study, and then went to Italy to study fresco-painting in1898.
For the Paris World Fair in 1900, Akseli Gallen-Kallela painted frescoes for the Finnish Pavilion. In these frescoes, his political ideas became most evident. One of the snakes in the fresco Ilmarinen Plowing the Field of Vipers is wearing the Romanov crown, and the process of removing the vipers from the field was a clear reference to his desire for a free Finland. The World Fair exposed many people to his artwork and made Gallen-Kallela's the leading Finnish artist. Axel Waldemar Gallén changed his name to the more Finnish-sounding Akseli Gallen-Kallela in 1907.
In 1909, Gallen-Kallela moved his family to Nairobi, Kenya, he painted over 150 Expressionist oil-paintings while there, but they returned to Finland after a couple of years, because he realized Finland was his main inspiration.
Gallen-Kallela and his son fought at the front as part of the Finnish Whites against the Reds during the Finnish Civil War in 1918. When General Mannerheim, later heard about this, he invited Gallen-Kallela to design the flags, official decorations, and uniforms for the newly independent Finland.
Between 1923 to 1926, Akseli Gallen-Kallela lived in the United States, while an exhibition of his paintings toured several cities, as the tour moved west, he visited the Taos art-colony in New Mexico to study indigenous American Western art.
Art Movement: Symbolism, Realism.
Artists Influencing Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Adolf von Becker.
He Traveled To France, Germany, England, Italy, Kenya, USA, Denmark.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist, with text adapted from Wikipedia.