NOBA Nordic Baltic contemporary art platform

Amos Rex presents the life’s work of Birger Carlstedt (1907–1975) in an extensive retrospective exhibition that encompasses the artist’s entire oeuvre, all the way from his abstract experiments of the 1920s to the Concretist period beginning in the 1950s. The exhibition includes a reconstruction of the legendary café Le Chat Doré.

Birger Carlstedt was a pioneer in abstract art and a multitalented dandy who worked with fields such as interior design, design and staging, in addition to painting. He followed and participated in the discussion around art during his time, dared to experiment outside the mainstream and familiarised himself with new artistic movements during his many travels.

The exhibition is based on Amos Rex’s collections, which the museum has inherited from Birger Carlstedt and his spouse concert pianist France Ellegaard.

Legendary café featured in the exhibition

Carlstedt designed Finland’s first Functionalist interior to a café that opened on Unioninkatu in 1929. The café, Le Chat Doré, has been reconstructed for the exhibition. Café visitors can experience a moment of indulgence in a prohibition-era setting.

When he designed the sensational Modernist interior of the café, the Finland-Swedish Birger Carlstedt was a young and aspiring artist. For later generations, Le Chat Doré could only be conveyed through gouache blueprints and photographs. In Finnish art history, the floor painting in the café is still considered one of the first constructivist works of art and the interior one of the first Functionalist subjects. The interior was an embodiment of the Bauhaus movement, a combination of end use and staging elements. It marked the starting point of Carlstedt’s career as a visual artist and, above all, his work later as a theatre set designer during the 1940s and 1950s.

The Russian cabinet of Le Chat Doré has been produced with augmented reality technology. The AR application has been produced with the support of Danske Bank.

New: Book on Carlstedt in Finnish and Swedish

Birger Carlstedt – Modernismin haaste (“The Challenge of Modernism”) will be published in conjunction with the exhibition. The book, available in Finnish and Swedish, has been written by Amos Rex’s experts and art historians from the University of Helsinki and Åbo Akademi. It is the first extensive and comprehensive work on Carlstedt’s uncompromising and versatile art as well as his unique personality.

Gallery name: Amos Rex

Address: Mannerheimintie 22-24, Helsinki

Opening hours: Mon, Fri 11:00 - 18:00, Wed-Thu 11:00 - 20:00, Sat-Sun 11:00 - 17:00

Open: 11.10.2019 - 12.01.2020