The Musee d’Orsay © Musée d'Orsay-Patrice Schimdt


LONDON - The 7.01 Eurostar for Paris is a great place for letting the mind wander. En route to the French capital this morning to see a retrospective of the Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela, I was mulling over the links across Europe between artists at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries - and how this blog could be a great way for us in the London European art department to share our discoveries and ideas on some of these artists.

The really big names of the period – those who command the headlines today – can almost be counted on the fingers of one hand. But there were also thousands – if not tens of thousands – from Helsinki to Hamburg, Cordoba to Capri, who in their day were hugely influential. Only now though are we beginning to look at them afresh, and consider them in the wider European and international context.

At the moment, for me, everything is pointing north, with great attention being given to Scandinavian artists. As well as Gallen-Kallela who, with this Paris show, is finally getting the exposure his work deserves. This is also the year for fellow Finn Helene Schjerfbeck. It is the 150th anniversary of her birth and there are major exhibitions across Finland to follow up on recent shows in Paris, the Hague and Hamburg. I’ll be joining the celebrations in Finland this year – which deserves a post of its own. Watch this space.

The intercom interrupts to say Gare du Nord is approaching. Next stop: the Musée d'Orsay.