“Laid out in finely wrought displays, it is one of the most comprehensive exhibitions about the artistry and making of design you are likely to see.”

- Roberta Smith, New York Times, September 1, 2016


Artek and the Aaltos: Creating a Modern World was the first exhibition in the United States to examine Artek, a pioneering Finnish design company founded in 1935, and the first to have a specific focus on the two architect co-founders, Alvar Aalto (1898–1976) and Aino Marsio-Aalto (1894–1949). The exhibition considered the Aaltos’ shared practice through the lens of this groundbreaking company, whose under-recognized and multifaceted mission far exceeded its manufacturing of bentwood furniture designed by Alvar Aalto, for which the firm is best known. It also offered for the first time a specific analysis of Artek’s distinct international role as a disseminator of modernism in art, architecture, interiors, furniture, and other products.

Approximately 200 works were featured—many never before on public view—including architectural drawings, sketches and drawings for interiors and furniture, paintings, photography, furniture, glassware, lighting, and textiles.


Artek and the Aaltos: Creating a Modern World was curated by Bard Graduate Center Gallery Director Nina Stritzler-Levine, a recognized scholar of modern architecture and design, and Juhani Pallasmaa, a prolific writer on modern and contemporary art and architecture, and an architect and professor. Timo Riekko, archivist at the Alvar Aalto Archive in Jyväskylä, served as the curatorial assistant in Finland, and Kirstin Purtich, a recent graduate of the Bard Graduate Center master’s program, was the curatorial assistant in New York.