Portrait: Tapio Wirkkala © Maaria Wirkkala. Artwork: Tapio Wirkkala, Square (detail), 1950s. Tapio Wirkkala Rut Bryk Foundation Collection / EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art © Ari Karttunen / EMMA

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For the first time, Japan will host a comprehensive exhibition of Tapio Wirkkala's work, titled "The Sculptor of Ultima Thule," touring multiple venues throughout 2025 and 2026. Celebrating the 110th anniversary of the birth of Tapio Wirkkala (1915–1985), a pioneer of Finnish modernism, the exhibition will showcase the artist's visionary and broad-ranging contributions to art and design. Known for his work across various mediums, including art objects, industrial design, graphic design, exhibition and architectural design, sculptures, and environmental art, Wirkkala's influence on the design world is profound.

Curated in collaboration with EMMA (Espoo Museum of Modern Art) and Japanese experts, "The Sculptor of Ultima Thule" will offer an extensive overview of Wirkkala's iconic production, unique design process, and the landscapes of Lapland and Venice that inspired him. The exhibition comprises approximately 300 works, featuring rarely displayed plywood sculptures, design objects and prototypes Wirkkala created for brands such as Iittala, Venini, and Rosenthal, and insights into his life's key landscapes.

The core of the exhibition is built around the collection of the Tapio Wirkkala Rut Bryk Foundation, the largest existing compilation of works by Wirkkala and his wife, artist Rut Bryk. Based on the couple's personal archives, the collection has been housed at EMMA since 2017. Additionally, "The Sculptor of Ultima Thule" will include a wide selection of glass and silver works loaned from Collection Kakkonen, Finland’s leading collection of modern glass and ceramics. The pieces are being prepared at EMMA for the tour in Japan.

Kicking off in 2025 at the Tokyo Station Gallery to commemorate Wirkkala's 110th birthday, the exhibition will travel to various locations across Japan, to be announced later. The exhibition is a collaborative effort between EMMA, the Tapio Wirkkala Rut Bryk Foundation, and the Japanese company Blue Sheep, showcasing the enduring legacy and international appeal of Wirkkala’s work.

HT

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