Alvar Kolanen

Alvar Kolanen (1921-2007) was a PR photographer who captured through his lens the stars of the Finnish entertainment and fashion worlds from the 1950’s until the middle of the 1970’s.  Many of his photographs have become iconic images, leaving an indelible imprint on the consciousness of the Finnish nation.  Images of the middle-aged Olavi Virta or Tapio Rautavaara with his ubiquitous rucksack, are recognised by one and all.  Other shining stars include Lenita Airisto, Laila Kinnunen and Vieno Kekkonen, together with a number of later fashion models, singers and groups.

Alvar Kolanen photographed nearly all the major stars of the golden age of Finnish popular music.  His extensive collection includes PR photographs, record and magazine covers, photographs of early recording techniques and television broadcasting, captivating performances on stage, fashion photography, film stills and atmospheric examples of the changing face of Helsinki during this period.  Stars of 1960’s popular music and 1970’s rock music are all represented in a 156 page book and at an exhibition, ranging from well-established figures to lesser known performers.

Alvar Kolanen’s close working relationship with major Finnish record companies (Levytukku, Scandia, Musiikki Fazer) resulted in unique images of performers on stage, in television studios and behind the scenes at private record company parties.  Euphoric scenes were captured during television recordings of Eurovision song contests or Syksyn Savel programmes (a Finnish song contest).

The book of Alvar Kolanen’s photographs, “Tähdet tuikkivat – Olavi Virrasta Irwiniin” (”Stars Shine: From Olavi Virta to Irwin”), and the exhibition at Laterna Magica gallery (14 October-13 November, 2010) give a nostalgc glimpse into this period of popular music, entertainment and fashion.  Familiar iconic images universally recognised by the nation are shown side by side with some surprising and previously unpublished photographs.

Editing of the photographs for the book and the exhibition, text for the book: Hannele Tilles (nee Kolanen), Risto Kolanen and Jari “Dile” Kolanen

Enlargements for the exhibition: Juha Ferin/Ferinkuva

Graphic design and layout of the book: Petri Kuokka and Leena Hemming/Aarnipaja

Book published by: Elastic House