The term Naivism comes from the French word naïve, which can be translated as childlike, guileless and natural. As a visual-art ‘ism’, naivism is defined as a figurative art movement that comes in many shapes and sizes, and aims to achieve a simple mode of expression free of traditional art doctrines, perspectives and proportions. Naivist artworks frequently also involve a narrative.


The Heinänen Art Foundation’s Naivist Collection comprises 145 works made using a variety of techniques. A total of 45 naivist artists are represented. Most are Finnish, but there are also some international names among them. The collection was built up over a period of around twenty years. The first work was Håkan Brunberg’s The Circus purchased in 1968. The acquisitions reflected the preferences of the donors, Aira and Kalevi Heinänen, while aiming at diversity and comprehensiveness. The Collection was donated to Oulu Museum of Art in 1987.


The naivist works owned by the Heinänen Art Foundation can be divided into various thematic groupings according to their subject matter. They often tell us about people’s lives and everyday existences. Joy, sorrow, and dreams are there, too. Similarly, animals and objects, along with nature and the surrounding environment, are also depicted humorously, in fairytale-like fashion, or even in strange and possibly grotesque ways. Nevertheless, the underlying tone and message remain positive.