Finnish National Gallery - Art Collections

Kouri Collection


About the collection

The Kouri Collection consists of Pentti Kouri’s personal collection of domestic and international contemporary art with more than 60 works from 38 artists. The collection includes paintings, sculptures, installation art and graphics. The works represent international trends in contemporary art - such as minimalism, pop art and arte povera - from the 1960s onward. The works clearly reflect the transition art underwent in the 1960s and the detachment of the younger generation from their predecessors’ conception of art.

The Kouri Collection includes works from many internationally acclaimed artists, such as Richard Long, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, Dan Flavin and Christian Boltanski.

Pentti Kouri started collecting art in the 1980s. His motive was to make his collection a “work of art” in its own right. The banking crisis and the volatile economy in the 1990s put paid to his dream of having an art museum, or even an art collection, of his own. Due to the controversy surrounding what came to be known as the “Kouri deals”, Pentti Kouri lost a major part of his assets to Postipankki Ltd bank. In 1997, the Ministry of Education acquired Kouri’s collection from Postipankki Ltd and, in 1998, donated some sixty works from it to the recently opened Kiasma. The collection was named the Kiasma Collection. The collection includes several works of notable international contemporary art, the likes of which the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma would not have been able to acquire were it not for private funding. In 2007, the collection was renamed the Kouri Collection, in honour of its original owner.

About the collector

Pentti Kouri (1949 - 2009) was a Finnish economist and venture capitalist. He was born in Kemijärvi. He got his Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Helsinki in 1970 and his Ph.D. in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1974 and had since served as professor of Economics at the universities of Stanford, Yale and Helsinki and the New York University. He became interested in art in the 1980s and, after entering business life and gaining wealth, he started to build his personal collection of contemporary art. In the background of Kouri’s collection were, in his own words, a personal interest in art and financial means to expand the collection.