Genius Guides Youth

Artist(s):Wäinö Aaltonen Date:1961 (1958–1960) Medium:bronze Dimensions:290 x 215 cm Location:Yliopistonmäki main square

Architect Aarne Ervi’s overall plan for Yliopistonmäki (University Hill) included a sculpture to be placed at the fountain on the main square. The University turned to Academician and sculptor Wäinö Aaltonen (1894–1966) on the matter and commissioned a bronze sculpture on the theme Muusan kuiskaus (“Whispering Muse”) from him, with Honorary Mining Counsellor Veli Arvonen as the donor. However, as the work progressed, the whispering muse changed to a motherly genius who guides the youth. The inspiration for the sculpture and the basin is believed to be V. A. Koskenniemi’s poem “Soihdunkantajat” (“Torchbearers”), written for the ceremonial conferment of 1955. The finished sculpture, titled Genius Guides Youth, was cast by Väinö Kärkkäinen and unveiled on the Yliopistonmäki main square on 12 May 1961.

The University’s art collection also includes the plaster sculptures Pale Maiden (Marjatta), 1934, and Primal Force (Destruction of Culture), 1915, from Aaltonen. He was one of the most important Finnish sculptors of the twentieth century. During his career, Aaltonen completed several public sculptures, including the Work and Future series in the House of Parliament chamber in the early 1930s. There are eleven outdoor sculptures by him in Turku alone.

Emma Vuolaslempi 2024

Casting contract, 31 October 1960. Sopimuksia 1943–1974, I Hm:2, University of Turku Central Archives.

Contract, 21 January 1959. Taidekokoelmia koskevaa 1963–1970, I Ia3:2, University of Turku Central Archives.

Junttila, Veli. “Genius ohjaa nuoruutta.” Turun Sanomat, 9 May 2011.

Koskinen, Mirva, ed. Silmin nähden. Taideteoksia Turun yliopiston arkkitehtuurissa – Art in Architecture at the University of Turku. Turku: University of Turku, 1997.

“Wäinö Aaltonen.” Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art, s.a.