Esoteric content ’hiding in plain sight’?

Art historian Marja Lahelma, who is a member of the Seekers of the New project, has examined esotericism as a marginalised dimension in Finnish art history in a new publication by the Finnish National Gallery. Lahelma problematises the notion of the ‘Golden Age’ connecting it with a sense of nostalgia and melancholic longing. She argues that nationalism and esotericism were in fact deeply intertwined in the artistic discourses of the period. The article explores these issues through two case studies, the first of which focuses on the myth of Akseli Gallen-Kallela as a national hero and patriotic-minded artist, while the second one explores a national monument, the Lönnrot Memorial (1902) by Emil Wikström. According to Lahelma, this sculptural work that is located in a public park in the very centre of Helsinki represents a fascinating example of esoteric content ‘hiding in plain sight’.

The article From Nostalgia to Where…? National Romanticism, Esotericism, and the ‘Golden Age of Finnish Art’” is available online and can be downloaded on the Finnish National Gallery’s website at

Screenshot 2020-01-28 at 19.53.44



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