Area Handbook for Finland

By Theodore L. Stoddard; William K. Carr et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
ARTISTIC AND INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT

Finnish artistic and intellectual development achieved a truly national style and a momentum of its own by the latter half of the nineteenth century. The nationalist movement was the primary catalyst in stimulating the arts and letters, which had been dormant during Finland's 600-year subordination to Sweden. It has been aptly observed that "Finnish art has a long past and a short history." A vigorous and anonymous folk art had existed for thousands of years, but conscious and independent artistic activity developed only after release from Swedish domination and strengthened as russification was imposed. The headway made by nationalism and cultural development during this period strongly supported the claim for independence in 1917. In fact, Finnish culture and nationalism reinforced each other to such a degree that Finnish arts and letters matured directly from infancy into a golden age, whose influence prevailed a century later.

The appearance at the right moment of gifted and inspired individuals was more responsible than broad-based movements for the cultural flowering, which was marked by the effort of Finnish artists and intellectuals to develop a national idiom. Although artists took on quasi-political roles, their works were not parochial or limited in their appeal to Finnish audiences.

The Finnish disposition to individuality, combined with geographic, commercial, and cultural isolation from the mainstream of both Western and Eastern cultures, has allowed Finnish artists to choose from outside influences and to cultivate the Finnish taste for the simple and the functional. Until the economy became fully industrialized in the mid-twentieth century, there was no firm economic basis for the continuing support of creative work. The state has generally been encouraging but has been limited in the support it could offer, and private sources of patronage and support have been lacking. Finland does not have sizable cities or a café society, which in Europe were the forcing grounds for art. In Finland, then, the artist has been relatively unencumbered by artistic canon and has had a measure of artistic freedom rarely found in other civilized and established societies.

Although some artistic activity has become institutionalized with the establishment of government and university departments and juries

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Area Handbook for Finland
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface v
  • COUNTRY SUMMARY vii
  • FINLAND - TABLE OF CONTENTS xi
  • Contents xii
  • Contents xiii
  • SECTION I. SOCIAL 1
  • Chapter 2 - HISTORICAL SETTING 9
  • Chapter 3 - ENVIRONMENT AND POPULATION 35
  • Chapter 4 - SOCIAL SYSTEM 49
  • Chapter 5 - LIVING CONDITIONS 57
  • Chapter 6 - RELIGIOUS LIFE 71
  • Chapter 7 - EDUCATION AND MASS COMMUNICATIONS 81
  • Chapter 8 - ARTISTIC AND INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT 97
  • SECTION II. POLITICAL 121
  • Chapter 10 - POLITICAL DYNAMICS, ATTITUDES, AND VALUES 139
  • Chapter 11 - FOREIGN RELATIONS 153
  • SECTION III. ECONOMIC 167
  • Chapter 13 - AGRICULTURE AND INDUSTRY 181
  • Chapter 14 - TRADE, TRANSPORTATION, AND SERVICES 193
  • SECTION IV. NATIONAL SECURITY 207
  • Chapter 16 - THE ARMED FORCES 213
  • Index 247
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