Editor-in-Chief of art magazine Taide and an active member of SARV / AICA


Honorary member of SARV (Finnish Critics’ Association), editor-in-chief and managing secretary of art magazine Taide (”Art”), Jaakko Lintinen has passed away. He died after a long disease on the 26th of February in Helsinki, at the age of 89 years. He was born on the 8th of May, 1933 in Tampere, Finland.

I remember Jaakko Lintinen as a very influential person and a champion of the artworld in Finland from the 1970s to the 1990s.  He was very active in art politics, especially in the Finnish Critics’ Association as well as in AICA Finland, the art section of SARV. He was also the vice president of AICA International.

Colleagues talk about Lintinen as a curious, open, and intellectually alert person who loved polemics. The art magazine Taide of his time was a spry, involved, and multi-sided base for art and philosophical discussions, one of the leading cultural magazines of pre-millennium Finland.

This was especially the case in the 1990s, when Lintinen was the first journalist as the editor-in-chief of Taide in 1990–1995. Until his period, only artists had been editors-in-chief, and Lintinen worked with them as a strong managing secretary during a long and fruitful period. He had a talent for working in teams to activate others and to bring their journalistic ideas for the best of the magazine and for the discourse.

As a hard-working international operator, Lintinen has had a strong relationship with his colleagues in Finland, even widely outside it. He went on a study trip to the USA in 1996 to acquaint himself with many sides of the art world there.

Jaakko Lintinen was a primus motor in planning the Academy of E.J. Vehmas for art critics to study their work. The starting point for this project was an art historical event by SARV, AICA Finland, and the Sara Hildén Art Museum in the presence of art critic emeritus E.J. Vehmas (1922–1980), still alive then in May, 1980 in Tampere. Unfortunately, the academy never actualized despite its promising start.

A photograph taken in the meeting shows Lintinen, Vehmas, and the professor of art history, Sixten Ringbom from Åbo Academy among other active colleagues, in the event centered around the relationship of art criticism and art historical research. The participants as well as the lecturers of the occasion were of different generations; art critics, art historians, artists, and students. I myself was also present as a young critic.

Lintinen was a leading member in the team to plan the AICA Congress in Helsinki and Tampere in 1983. It demanded a lot of meetings and lobbying among the colleagues in AICA International (especially between those in other Nordic AICA sections as well as in AICA Committees) until the Congress was approved by the AICA board and general assembly members.

One of the main themes of the Congress was ”Art-information: a bridge or a barricade between cultures?” The Congress at the end of May, 1983 was organized at the same time with the Congress of IAA (International Artists’ Association) in Helsinki. The two congresses had common programs, as well.

The art magazine Taide presented the themes of the Congress and published some of the lectures, like those of the American critic of Norwegian background, Peter Scheldahl, a critic of the contemporary Nordic art scene and of similar trans-avant-garde ideas of the Italian critic Achille Bonito Oliva, who also received a great deal of criticism from the Congress participants.

One of the art historical events of the AICA Congress in Helsinki was a performance by the Finnish artist Roi Vaara as the White Man, who took the stage with lecturer Hermann Raum from GDR (DDR), to read his twenty-page paper. As White Man sat down at the table, where Lintinen was as well, Raum finished at once in the middle of his long reading and disappeared from the hall.

May, 1983: Roi Vaara’s ”White Man” performance interrupted a long lecture by Berlin critic Hermann Raum at the AICA Congress at the Old Student House in Helsinki. Jaakko Lintinen was the chair of the event’s panel.

Except in the articles in Taide, Jaakko Lintinen has looked back to the Congress also in his late book Taide hidas, elämä lyhyt (”Art slow, life short”, 2001), which concentrates on the 1960s and 70s in the artworld.

Year 1983 was significant in many ways for the artworld in Finland. I think especially about Ars83, an important exhibition of contemporary art in Ateneum Art Museum, that opened a huge view into the actual international art-scene. Art magazine Taide concentrated on it in its articles, and Jaakko Lintinen himself presented Ars83 in a tv-program by Finnish Broadcasting Company.

The Taide of Lintinen’s period was a forum for philosophical readings and post-structural debates of the period, many of which were translated into Finnish for the first time. It was a space that activated many people engage deeper in the field.

Taide also encouraged new writer contributors to take part, whether their background was in art criticism, art history, or philosophy, or in visual or other arts. There were debates between different projections, orientations, and trends for art. In Finland the first themes rose around constructivism, realism, conceptualism, and pop art; this was followed by all the post-ideas, such as post-modernism, post-feminism, and post-structuralism.

It is astonishing to flip through the pages of old art magazines and to notice how ahead of its time Jaakko Lintinen’s Taide really was. Environmental issues, our relationship with nature, and our concerns about its situation came to the forefront through his editorship. He was also one of the first art critics to write about performance art.

In her PhD dissertation Taide vallassa (”Art in Power”, 1999), Leena-Maija Rossi concentrated on the changing notions of politics in Finnish art discourses of the 1980s, as Taide was at the center of her research material. The publication emphasized that the repetition of conventional politics and the re-formulation of the concept occurred in the form of discursive power. She pointed out that the art world is not outside of or immune to power relations.

Jaakko Lintinen was awarded several times throughout his career, such as the E.J. Vehmas Prize and the Edvard Richter Prize, for his work as an art critic with a background in journalism.

Before art magazine Taide, Lintinen had started his career in the 1960s in magazine media and in Design Forum Finland. He received his MA at the University of Helsinki in 1965.


Marja-Terttu Kivirinta, PhD is an art critic, art historian, academic writer, and journalist. She has made her career in the cultural section of the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, as a contributor from 1978, and as editor and staff writer in 1981–2008. She is a board member of AICA Finland and the vice president of AICA International. It was thanks to Jaakko Lintinen that she originally applied for the memberships of SARV and AICA in the early 1980s.

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