7.7.2000 - 3.9.2000






Photographs from Finland 1941-44

On July 17, 2000, the Helsinki City Art Museum opened at its gallery at Tennis Palace an exhibition of colour photographs taken in Finland during the Continuation War in 1941-44. Most of the 120 photographs were officially presented for the first time.

Colours of war presents colour photographs taken in Finland during the Continuation War in 1941-44. Images of Finnish history are almost exclusively black and white up to the 1960s and the advent of colour television. However, in the late 1930s occasional experiments were made here with 35mm colour film, which had been developed in the middle of that decade in America and Germany for use by the film industry. During the Continuation War in 1941-44, Finns got some 35mm colour film quite by accident from German soldiers, and it was tried out for the first time by some twenty war photographers. The number of pictures taken during the war was about 3,000 frames, or about 100 rolls.

Photos were taken both by amateurs and professionals. The latter included Osvald Hedenström and Hugo Sundström. The most famous of the amateurs was opera singer Kim Borg, whose photos include shots of famous writer Olavi Paavolainen captured in uniform in Aunus. Film director Erik Blomberg and talented cinematographer Nils Helander also took pictures. The small colour photos, taken without commission, read like the photographers' war diary. The photographs in the exhibition do not depict events of the war, they are mainly taken on the front during lulls in the fighting or when troops were moved. Their subject matter include moments of relaxation, air surveillance, and villages and churches in Karelia. Erkki Majava managed to capture on colour film the greatest news event of the Continuation War: the re-capture of the town of Viipuri in 1941. In the black-and-white world of publishing, however, colour photos could not be printed. The colours of war have rested in peace in the archives to this day.

The photographs in the Colours of War exhibition have been enlarged from original transparencies. Some are digitally enhanced.

The exhibition was designed by Kalevi Keskinen, author of non-fiction, and photo editor Mikko Pekari. The photos are mainly from the Photo Department of the Training Development Centre of the Finnish Defence Forces and from the archives of the Society of Finnish Literature. Photos have also been borrowed from the private archives of Hugo Sundström, Osvald Hedenström and Eino Malmi.

Lasipalatsin Mediakeskus Oy ©2001 10.7.2001


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