Session 12

Hanna-Leena Paloposki / PhD, Archive and Library Manager, Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki
Maija Koskinen / PhD candidate, University of Helsinki


Art, Artists, and Art Institutions in Times of War and Conflicts


A war permeates and affects the whole society: it inevitably impacts and shapes the conditions of the art field. During the Second World War, for instance, depending on the political situation in each country and its position in the war, artists and art institutions had different kinds of possibilities and restrictions on action. Some of them were overt and explicit, others covert or hidden. This also applies to other wars and times of conflicts.

However, the effects of the Second World War on art, artists and the art field are an almost entirely unstudied area in Finnish art history. The Second World War has been considered mainly as a kind of a rupture, after which the development of art continued. What is the situation in the field of art history in other Nordic countries, in Europe and elsewhere in the world — especially in relation to the Nordic region?

The emphasis of the session is on the era of the Second World War in the Nordic countries and/or in connection to them, but also papers studying the conditions of art in other wars and conflicts, in the 20th and 21st century Europe, such as the Cold War, are welcome.

The papers could consider following topics and questions:

  • How were wartime international art relations formed?
  • How did war/conflict affect artists, artmaking and art academies/schools?
  • What kinds of national and international exhibitions were arranged in wartime and how?
  • What happened to private and public collections and collecting in wartime/conflict?
  • How did the wartime art market and art dealers function?
  • What kind of Nordic art collaboration, and between whom, took place?
  • Art at the service of (war) politics: Did art take sides – forced or voluntarily?
  • What is ‘freedom of art’ in wartime/conflict?