Onni Okkonen
Humanist of the day

Onni Okkonen

Onni Okkonen was one of the most significant and influential people in Finnish artistic circles in the 1920s and 30s. He wrote many popular works about the world of art history and tried to find an independent place and identity for Finnish culture in Europe.

Onni Okkonen

Born August, 20, 1886, Korpiselkä. Died May 18, 1962, Helsinki.

BA 1908, PhD 1914, Imperial Alexander University

Professor of Art History at the University of Helsinki, 1927–48
Docent in Art History and Theory 1916–27
Art history teacher at the Finnish Technical Institute, 1917–21
Art critic for Uusi Suometar/Uusi Suomi newspaper, 1916–20 and 1926–45

Board of directors of the Finnish National Theatre, 1916–19
Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, 1928
Finnish Institute in Rome delegation, 1938–62
Chair of the board of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters Foundation, 1940–
Member of the Academy of Finland, 1948–56

Commander of the Order of the White Rose of Finland, 1935
Commander, First Class of the Order of the Lion of Finland, 1949; Grand Cross, 1956
Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, 1935
Commander of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity
Commander of the Order of the Polar Star

Photo: SKS / Literary Archives
Written by Lauri Lönnström
Translated by Joe McVeigh

Onni Okkonen entered the university in 1905 and started his studies in Aesthetics, the Finnish language and literature. He finished his Bachelor’s degree in 1908 and then travelled on a scholarship around Europe. While travelling, he was inspired to study the arts; in large part after meeting and being encouraged by the Renaissance researchers Henry Biaudet, Kaarlo Karttunen and Liisa Karttunen in Italy.

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