Stories of Black Britishness by Lubaina Himid
Winner of prestigious awards, including the Turner Prize, Lubaina Himid has a long and prolific career as an artist, curator, and teacher. Her art...
Natalia Tiberio 24 April 2023
min Read9 February 2023
Best known for the children’s character Moomin, Tove Jansson was an illustrator, painter, and writer. Born in the Northern nature-surrounded city of Helsinki, she led a fascinating life full of creativity and her thoughtful personality can be seen throughout her artworks which continue to charm new generations.
Tove Jansson, the multi-faceted Finnish artist, was born in the summer of 1914 in Helsinki, then part of the Russian Empire. Raised in a creative environment (her mother was an illustrator and graphic designer and her father was a sculptor) she was encouraged to be an artist from an early age. Trained in fine arts in Stockholm, Helsinki, and Paris, she led a successful and prolific career in illustration, painting, and writing.
Jansson’s most famous and beloved creation, the Moomin series, came out during the 1940s as an escape from the terrors of WWII. It incorporated all the themes she explored throughout her life, such as home, family, care, and freedom.
Another important aspect of her work is the presence of nature. Jansson grew up close to birch forests and stone beaches and spent many summers of adulthood on the isolated island of Klovharun, together with her partner, artist Tuulikki Pietilä. Nature is therefore felt both as background for the stories and illustrations as well as more subjectively in how the characters behave.
The Moomins are undoubtedly the best known of Tove Jansson creations. These warm stories of a troll family, illustrated in simple ink, and their adventures in the Moomin Valley have been an essential part of the Finnish culture since the 1940s. The Moomins and the Great Flood inaugurated the saga in 1945 and the last book of the series released in 1970. During this period the stories reached a massive audience and were translated into more than 60 languages.
In addition to the books, The Moomins was published as a comic strip in the London newspaper The Evening News for almost 30 years. Today a complete collection of these witty and wise strips are reunited in a beautiful book, also published in various languages.
Because of its huge success, The Moomins became an animated series, a play, a musical, toys and there is even a Moomin amusement park in Finland!
Tove Jansson, Moomin Comic Strip Album, 1957. Tove Jansson’s website.
Tove Jansson, Moominsummer Madness, 1957. © Moomin CharactersTM.
Tove Jansson, Poster for the Moomin Opera, 1974. © Moomin CharactersTM.
Her passion for fine arts kept Jansson painting, drawing, and sketching her whole life. She received many commissions for paintings and murals and a significant number of her works are part of the Helsinki Art Museum collection.
Portraits of family and friends, landscapes, and self-portraits depicted with attention to light and color are the main characteristics of her works.
Tove Jansson, Boats in Pellinge, 1929. © Moomin CharactersTM.
Tove Jansson, Girl Smoking, Self-portrait, 1940. © Moomin CharactersTM.
Tove Jansson, The Shore, 1960. © Moomin CharactersTM.
Besides writing children’s fantasy tales, Jansson dedicated her time to adult fiction, publishing five novels and collections of short stories. Her writing deepens the themes of family life, freedom, and home, and has a more philosophical and contemplative view of her experiences. The Summer Book (1974), is considered a classic of Finnish and Swedish literature. In a clear and minimalist way, it tells the story of a grandmother and her granddaughter spending the summer on an island, sharing reflections about love, solitude, and happiness.
In 2020, the artist’s life became a movie, Tove, directed by Zaida Bergroth and follows her career, The Moomin’s creation, and her relationships.
DailyArt Magazine needs your support. Every contribution, however big or small, is very valuable for our future. Thanks to it, we will be able to sustain and grow the Magazine. Thank you for your help!