Finland in Venice – history

The Venice Biennale, founded in 1895 and held biannually, is one of the most important international forums for presenting contemporary art. The two pavilions of Finland – national Alvar Aalto Pavilion and the Nordic Pavilion – are located in the heart of the historical biennale park, Giardini di Castello.

The Giardini houses permanent national pavilions as well as a large exhibition hall that houses a themed exhibition curated by the Biennale’s director. Alongside the Central Pavilion, built in 1894 and later restructured and extended several times, the Giardini is occupied by a further 29 pavilions built at different periods by the various countries participating in the Biennale. The other main exhibition area is called Arsenale.

From Akseli Gallen-Kallela to Maaria Wirkkala and IC-98

Finnish artists have participated in the biennale for more than a century. Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Finnish painter known for his illustrations of the Finnish national epic Kalevala, had his own hall in the biennale in 1914. Officially Finland participated the national selection of the biennale in 1954, when Wäinö Aaltonen and Tyko Sallinen presented their works at the biennale. The national pavilion of Finland, designed by the renowned architect Alvar Aalto, was built in 1956, and the first exhibition in the pavilion presented works by Helene Schjerfbeck. When the Nordic Pavilion was built in 1962, Finnish artists were exhibited in the Nordic Pavilion for Aalto pavilion being rented out to other countries, such as Iceland, Argentina and Portugal. In 2007 Finland returned to its own national pavilion with Maaria Wirkkala‘s exhibition Vietato Lo Sbarco – Landing Prohibited, and has been exhibiting there since. In 2015 Finland presented Hours, Years, Aeons, a new site-specific installation by the artist duo IC-98.

Nordic Pavilion’s joint exhibition

In the Nordic Pavilion, for the last three biennials of 2011, 2013 and 2015, a format was developed which involved the solo commissioning by each country of a project. For the period 2017-2021 the agreement entailing that all three countries are represented on equal terms, is resumed.

Finnish artists in the Venice Biennale


Aalto Pavilion

Miracle Workers Collective
Curators: Giovanna Esposito Yussif, Bonaventure Ndikung ja Christopher Wessels

Nordic Pavilion

Group exhibition including nabbteeri

Curator: Leevi Haapala & Piia Oksanen / Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art


Aalto Pavilion

Erkka Nissinen ja Nathaniel Mellors
Curator: Xander Karskens

Nordic Pavilion

Group exhibition including Mika Taanila and Pasi Myllymäki.

Curator Mats Stjernstedt.


Aalto Pavilion

IC-98 (Patrik Söderlund ja Visa Suonpää)
Sound: Max Savikangas
Curator: Taru Elfving

The main exhibition All the World’s Futures curated by Okwui EnwezorLiisa Roberts.


Falling Trees

Aalto Pavilion
Antti Laitinen

Nordic Pavilion
Terike Haapoja

Curators: Mika Elo, Marko Karo, Harri Laakso



Aalto Pavilion
Vesa-Pekka Rannikko
Curator: Laura Köönikkä


Aalto Pavilion
Jussi Kivi

Nordic Pavilion
Laura Horelli, Jani Leinonen

Curator: Michael Elmgreen ja Ingar Dragset


Aalto Pavilion
Maaria Wirkkala

Nordic Pavilion
Adel Abidin
Curator: Rene Block



Main exhibition The Experience of Art
Eija-Liisa Ahtila
Curator: María de Corral



Nordic Pavilion
Liisa Lounila
Curators: Andrea Kroksnes and Anne Karin Jortveit, Norway



Nordic Pavilion
Petteri Nisunen ja Tommi Grönlund
Curators: Petteri Nisunen and Tommi Grönlund, Finland

FRAME: Exhibition at Campo Santa Margherita
Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Anneli Nygren, Seppo Renvall, Mika Taanila, Salla Tykkä, Roi Vaara, Marko Vuokola, Maria Ylikoski, Mieskuoro Huutajat

Main exhibition Platea dell’ Umanita
Heli RekulaMaaria WirkkalaLaura HorelliCharles SandisonTuomo ManninenVeli GranöSalla Tykkä
Curator: Harald Szeemann


Nordic Pavilion
Eija-Liisa Ahtila
Curator: John Peter Nilsson, Sweden

FRAME: Tuukka Luukas and Marianna Uutinen



Nordic Pavilion
Marianna Uutinen
Curator: Jon-Ove Steihaug, Norway

Helena Hietanen
Curator: Markku Valkonen



Nordic Pavilion 
Nina Roos
Curator: Timo Valjakka, Finland

FRAME: Kari Cavén, Henrietta Lehtonen ja Maaria Wirkkala
Curator: Markku Valkonen



Nordic Pavilion
Jussi Niva
Curator: Lars Nittve, Sweden



Nordic Pavilion
Kari Cavén
Curator: Per Hovdenakk, Norway



Nordic Pavilion
Jukka Mäkelä
Curator: Maaretta Jaukkuri, Finland



Nordic Pavilion
Olli Lyytikäinen, Silja Rantanen, Osmo Valtonen



Nordic Pavilion
Carl-Erik Ström, Kain Tapper



Nordic Pavilion
Juhana Blomstedt



Nordic Pavilion
Matti Kujasalo



Nordic Pavilion
Olavi Lanu


Nordic Pavilion
Mikko Jalavisto
, Tapio Junno, Kimmo Kaivanto, Ulla Rantanen



Nordic Pavilion
Harry Kivijärvi
, Pentti Lumikangas



Pohjoismainen paviljonki
Juhani Linnovaara
Suomen Komissaari: E.J. Vehmas



Nordic Pavilion
Mauno Hartman
, Kimmo Kaivanto, Ahti Lavonen



Nordic Pavilion
Sam Vanni
, Heikki Häiväoja, Harry Kivijärvi



Nordic Pavilion
Ina Colliander
, Simo Hannula, Pentti Kaskipuro, Laila Pullinen



Nordic Pavilion
Ahti Lavonen
, Kain Tapper, Esko Tirronen



Aalto Pavilion
Ina Colliander
, Mikko Hovi, Aimo Kanerva



Aalto Pavilion
Unto Koistinen, Ernst Mether-Borgström, Olli Miettinen, Ben Renvall



Aalto Pavilion
Helene Schjerfbeck



Pavilion of Italy, hall XL
Wäinö Aaltonen, Tyko Sallinen