70 years old | There were nymphs before the angels – Professor of Art History Altti Kuusamo discovered in Rome that the Guardian Angels were not born until the 17th century

Altti Kuusamo, Professor Emeritus of Art History, interprets the meanings of everyday phenomena in various arts and cultures and always returns again to the eternal city of Rome.

If someone would have said Altti to Kuusamo in high school in Kuopio, that he still sometimes fetches angelic images of works of art hundreds of years old, he would have laughed. He shied away from school, played the piano, and read books on his parents ’abundant bookshelves, especially those of slow storytelling. Franz Kafkaa and Virginia Woolfia.

In Helsinki he studied literary studies and art history, which then began to take more as he went. He developed into a strict theorist and semiotician, a reader of communal meanings who has applied his teachings as much to the study of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque as to contemporary art, music, media and everyday phenomena such as summer cottages and forest catalogs.

“My goal is a poetic and detective lifestyle and the kind of text that sounds. I also like to write more freely about contemporary art in various publications. I try to analyze the meanings of the works and not so much to say what is or is not good art. But I like it Hannu Väisänen and Emma Hellen visual arts, ”he says.

PROTECTIVE ANGELS blew into Kuusamo’s life as he studied the Renaissance and Baroque catalogs in Rome. In an earlier study, he noticed an angel-going opening: Guardian angels did not appear in works of art until the early 17th century.

“I traced the Guardian Angels to the Christian Victoria figure and combined their return with changes in childhood history. Otherwise, I’ve never been particularly interested in angels, ”he admits.

Kuusamo has visited Rome a few times a year since the early 1980s, including during the Korona period. He sits long days reading at the Vatican Library and in his spare time enjoys strolling the streets of the city, the varied street scene, the campar soda and the cafés he has earnestly explored, as have the cafés of Helsinki in the 1980s.

“The café in Rome is always within reach. They come in as fine ladies in their furs as the skyline painters. But I was worried when the block cafes of the 1950s and 60s began to disappear. The old owners gave up their family businesses, after which the interiors of the places were turned into out-of-place wine bars, ”he describes.

“By 1978, all the big cafes had been destroyed and turned into fast food restaurants, international minibars, shoe stores. Only in Antico Caffè Greco, the Via Condotti has retained its 1760s décor. And all this in Rome, where tradition and locality are valued and concerned for the continuity of continuity! ”

SERIES OF ARTICLES Kuusamo has been inspired to write details of Renaissance art, which are usually overshadowed by entities. She has also made several publications on adorable female characters, nymphs, in Renaissance Christian birth paintings.

“Who wouldn’t be interested in Dionysian nymphs connected to the enjoyable aspects of life? They disappeared from mid-16th century fine art when the answer purge said not to all sensuality. I figured out how the number of these pagan bystanders in the mythical imagery increased and how they scurried amplified to Christian maternity wards, ”he says.

Kuusamo is currently writing his ninth article on melancholy, a quality of character inherited from the personality division of ancient times, which tends to fluctuate with mania and depression and was considered a sign of creativity in the 16th century. The subject is a poet who lived in the 19th century Charles Baudelairen astonishment due to changes in the Paris cityscape.

“Ruined melancholy is a very fascinating and multifaceted phenomenon mixed with grief and nostalgia. The melancholy coins also loved picture riddles, and every ruin was a riddle to them. I myself am a more lively sanguine, but as I get older, the embrace of melancholy cannot be avoided. ”

KUUSAMO now intends to continue its research, compile and submit its articles and write its memoirs.

“I don’t know yet what I’m researching next year. At least I want to write more about contemporary art and return to the Renaissance from new stations. I am fascinated by the Italian concept of vaghezza, which means a volatile and colorful, diverse approach to the subject, ”he says.

“I think Renaissance contemporaries had a sense that art became more complex. Even the fluctuating nymphs multiplied and changed shape, and their postures became more varied and the events surrounding them in the pictures richer. ”

Altti Kuusamo

  • Born in 1951 in Kitee.

  • He spent his childhood in Nurmes and enrolled as a student at Minna Canth’s co-educational school in Kuopio in 1972.

  • Master of Philosophy 1981 and Doctor of Philosophy 1996 at the University of Helsinki.

  • Teaching and research positions at the Academy of Fine Arts and the University of Helsinki. Professor of Art History at the University of Turku 2004–2017.

  • More than 400 scientific or popular publications from various fields of science and art. Served as an opponent in seven different subjects.

  • Einari Vehmas Award 1989.

  • Member of the Board of the Finnish Semiotic Society since 1989 and member of the Executive Committee of the International Association for Semiotic Studies since 1999.

  • Lives in Pikku Huopalahti in Helsinki. The family includes a wife, three children and seven grandchildren.

  • Has a passion for watching new houses at home and abroad.

  • Turns 70 on Tuesday, June 15th.

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