Photographic Gallery Hippolyte was founded in 1978 in a former upholstery workshop, a small one-room space on Pietarinkatu street in Helsinki. The founders were Ismo Kajander, Tuomo-Juhani Vuorenmaa, Caj Bremer, Sakari Sunila and Matti Saanio, and the opening exhibition was Caj Bremer’s The Seasons.
At that time, more than 20 years ago, the only venue for holding photographic exhibitions in Helsinki was the Finnish Museum of Photography, so there was a real need for a gallery specialising in photographic art. In the first years of its operation, the gallery’s exhibition programme included top names in Finnish photography (Pentti Sammallahti, Ben Kaila, Merja Salo, Stefan Bremer, I.K. Inha, Jorma Puranen, Seppo Saves and others) as well as American and French classics and modernists (Diana Arbus, W. Eugene Smith, Lewis W. Hine, Eugene Atget, Imogen Cunningham, Robert Frank, Weegee (Arthur Felig), and many others).
The Hippolyte Association was founded to maintain and run the gallery. The association later changed its name to the Finnish Society of Photography, which was responsible for the gallery up to 1995, when it was wound up and The Union of Artist Photographers in Finland (Since autumn 2014 Photographic Artists’ Association) took over the running of Photographic Gallery Hippolyte.
The focus of the gallery’s exhibition programme has gradually shifted from international classics and modernists towards Finnish contemporary photography. The shift in Finnish photographic art has also been reflected in the exhibition programme: documentary and direct photography, which in the 1970s were seen almost as the only possible genres, were replaced in the 1980s by a more diverse range of idioms and styles as the boundary between photography and visual art gradually became less rigid.
Subjective photography (names like Timo Kelaranta, Ulla Jokisalo and Kari Paajanen) gained ground, women photographers (Armi Laukia, Ulla Jokisalo, Raakel Kuukka, Marjukka Vainio, Tone Arstila among others) appeared on the scene, and colour photography (names like Juha-Pekka Inkinen, Jan Kaila and Veli Granö) became more common. Towards the end of the 1980s, the predominance of subjectivity in photography gave way to theory and a postmodern notion of the art, with direct photos being replaced by constructed and staged pictures (by such photographers as Ilkka Halso, Jukka Lehtinen and Jorma Puranen).
In spring 1997, Photographic Gallery Hippolyte moved from Pietarinkatu to its current premises at Kalevankatu 18 B in the centre of Helsinki. The new premises satisfied the requirements of the gallery better than the old one, and gave an opportunity to finally establish a sales collection of photographic art and a loan service, both long in planning. The new gallery was inaugurated in May 1997 with Esko Männikkö’s exhibition MEXAS.
The gallery continues to focus on photography and photography-based art. It hosts 12 exhibitions annually, most by Finnish artists, with two to four international exhibitions. During the course of its existence, Photographic Gallery Hippolyte has hosted over 200 photographic exhibitions.
You can access a list of shows in Photographic Gallery Hippolyte through the Past exhibitions link.