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The Fantastic World of TOVE JANSSON

Moomin, Little My, Snufkin, or Snork Maiden – many people in Germany, adults and children alike, know these names and adore the fantastic inhabitants of Moominvalley. But the name of their creator, Tove Jansson, is far less familiar in the country, as is her impressive range of works as visual artist and writer besides her stories about the white trolls. For the first time, her oeuvre comprising paintings, illustrations, stories, novels, and theatre plays is now being presented in its full diversity to the German public. The museum and art forum Günter Grass-House in Lübeck will be hosting the exhibition “The Fantastic World of Tove Jansson” until the end of September 2022.

Both in Tove Jansson’s life and works, there are parallels to Günter Grass. A show on this multifaceted artist is therefore an obvious choice for the museum, which dedicates its permanent exhibition to the visual and literary work of the Nobel Prize laureate Günter Grass. Both artists were trained in visual arts. Grass studied sculpture and graphic design in Germany and was a self-educated writer, just like the Finnish artist Tove Jansson, who studied painting and illustrating in Sweden, Finland, and France. Both became famous as writers rather by coincidence. The work of both artists is moreover deeply influenced by their love of nature – particularly of the Baltic Sea – and, although each in different ways, by their drastic experience of World War II.

Tove Jansson’s outstanding artistic output as a painter, caricaturist, and author is characterised by a passion for images and stories. The exhibition in Lübeck spans from Jansson’s early paintings, to her illustrations for the satirical magazine “Garm” with caricatures of Hitler and Stalin, to the creation and success of the Moomins, and to her late work with her return to painting and her novels and stories for adults. 

Visitors can expect to discover some 50 exhibits, among them paintings, caricatures, comic strips, drafts for book covers, and (illustrated) books. The artist’s family, friends, and lovers, who inspired the characters in the world of Moomin, are also introduced. Her niece Sophia Jansson talks about Tove’s love of the sea in an atmospheric video installation. Excerpts from the film “Haru Island of the Solitary” made by Tove’s life partner Tuulikki Pietilä document their life together on the Finnish island of Klovharun.

The show addresses not only adults, but primarily families with children, too. Visitors get to know Tove Jansson, her life, and her creation; they can immerse themselves in the exhibited works and listen to excerpts from her literary art. Children are invited to playfully discover Tove Jansson’s world. Her picture book “The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My”, in which Moomintroll and Mymble go in search of Little My, provides the plot for a Moomin adventure course: Kids can climb through the Hobgoblin's Hat, get to know Moomintroll and his friends, be creative themselves, solve tricky puzzles, visit Snufkin’s tent to browse through books, and choose which Moomin they would like to be. 

The exhibition opened on Sunday, 27 March 2022 at CineStar Lübeck. After a welcome by Finnish Ambassador Anne Sipiläinen, the CineStar movie theatre in cooperation with Nordic Film Days showed the film »TOVE«, which has just been released in German cinemas. Alma Pöysti, the Finnish actress who plays Tove Jansson in the biopic, was also present for the opening. In a conversation with the artistic director of Nordic Film Days, Thomas Hailer, the actress offered insights into the shooting and her role in the film. The opening event also featured a reading of texts by Tove Jansson and an introduction to the exhibition at the Günter Grass-House. The comprehensive program accompanying the show on display until 25 September 2022 will include readings from the Moomin books staged at Lübeck’s district libraries, various workshops for children and families, and a Finnish Midsummer Festival at Günter Grass-House.