For the first time at Paris Photo, AHO & SOLDAN and CLAIRE AHO
The family of avant-garde Finnish photography
7-10 November 2019, Grand Palais, Paris - Passage Jean Perrin, Level 1
Exhibiting for the first time at Paris Photo, the Aho & Soldan Photo and Film Foundation presents a selection of works (with catalogue) by HEIKKI AHO & BJÖRN SOLDAN, the originators of the Finnish art photography aesthetic in the 1920s, and C, Heikki’s daughter, a pioneer of colour photography in the 1950s. The work of these three pioneers – forming an artistic dynasty - provides a masterclass in the visual, technical and cognitive aspects of photography.
AHO & SOLDAN, the ideal of the Bauhaus inter-war avant-garde The work of Heikki Aho (1895-1961) and his brother Björn Soldan (1902-1953), featured in the permanent collections of the Pompidou Centre in Paris and JP Morgan Chase Art Collection in New York since 2013, bears witness to daily life in inter-war Finland and represents a new photographic aesthetic influenced by the Bauhaus (a rigorous approach, high-angle and low-angle shots, optical distortions, etc.) and defined by the “New Vision” movement.
Members of the avant-garde group ABISS (whose landmark exhibition in Helsinki 1930 is regarded as the turning point of Finnish photography) and founders of the Aho & Soldan company in 1924 in Helsinki, which became the leading Finnish film production company in the 1930s (400 short films)*, the brothers produced thousands of documentary and artistic photographs and were among the leading exponents of New Vision. CLAIRE AHO, a pioneer of colour photography
Heikki Aho gave his daughter Claire (1925-2015) a Rollei when she was ten years old (“The camera said Click ! and there the picture was, and since then I have taken pictures”). She founded the Claire Aho studio in the early 1950s in Helsinki and was a true pioneer of Finnish colour photography.
With a brand of humour that was her hallmark, she transcended Aho & Soldan’s aesthetic legacy by combining a unique sense of colour with meticulous framing and pared-back composition, telling the story of Finland in the 1950s and 1960s as the country discovered the consumer society. Her prolific, luminous and innovative work, which included advertisements, reportage and fashion photography, embodies an outstanding vision and personality that stepped beyond what was expected of photography at the time.
Her photographs are reminiscent of paintings. The modernity of the “Grand Old Lady of Finnish Photography” has earned her a place in the hall of fame of woman photographers, though her work has only recently been discovered by European galleries after having largely been dormant in archives (The Photographers’ Gallery, London 2013, Photo London, 2019). A must-see.
* MK2 Grand Palais pays tribute to the Aho & Soldan film production company with a cycle of 7 short films titled “Finland World : Des travaux et des jours” on 9 November at 2 pm.