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Birger Kaipiainen

(Finland, 1915-1988)
125 000 - 150 000 SEK
11 000 - 13 200 EUR
11 600 - 13 900 USD
Hammer price
700 000 SEK
Covered by droit de suite

By law, the buyer will pay an artist fee for this work of art. This fee is 5% of the hammer price, or less. For more information about this law:

Sweden: BUS
Finland: Kuvasto

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The artworks in this database are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced without the permission of the rights holders. The artworks are reproduced in this database with a license from Bildupphovsrätt.

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Camilla Behrer
Camilla Behrer
Head of Design / Head of Modern Decorative Art and Design
+46 (0)708 92 19 77
Birger Kaipiainen
(Finland, 1915-1988)

a ceramic sculpture of a bird, Arabia, Finland 1958.

Metal legs and beak, attached to a metal plaque. Richly decorated with clocks, etc, Signed KAIPIAINEN ARABIA. Height 53 cm, length ca 62 cm.

Repair to the head, one gem to the chest later, some retouches, small chip to tail.


The sculpture exhibited at Birger Kaipiainen's solo exhibition in the Wärtsilä Shop showroom in Helsinki 1958.

More information

Birger Kaipiainen (1915-1988) was a ceramic artist with a very special design language that exposed a rich fantasy of his. Kaipiainen was employed by Arabia as a 22-year-old in 1937 and stayed there until 1954 when he went to Sweden to work at the Rörstrand factory between 1954 and 1958. He then returned to Finland
and to Arabia where he remained until his death in 1988.
Birger Kaipiainen's earliest production was inspired by for instance the Byzantine art, he often used a sgraffito technique when working on the decorations.
The decorative and flowering chargers as seen from Kaipiainen's later production, perhaps what he is best known for, were usually built up with the relief effect of ceramic beads and the glazes were often colourful and intense, sometimes with iridescent hues of the glaze. In addition to the flowers and the fruits his motifs also featured various animals. The birds were the most common ones.
Kaipiainen began experimenting with pure sculptural motifs with birds in the late 1950s and received the Grand Prix at the Triennale in Milan for a sandpiper bird sculpture in 1960.

This sandpiper sculpture that Bukowskis have the pleasure of selling is made in 1958 and has a body entirely in ceramics. The decoration shows a variety of clocks, a recurring motif in Kaipiainen's visual world which is said to have reminded Kaipiainen of the young friend Kuovi who spoke about the migratory birds' intrinsic clock.
This sandpiper sculpture forebode the pearl birds that came to make Kaipiainen internationally known. These birds were made by first creating a steel skeleton that built up the shape, which was clad with hand-rolled ceramic beads and sometimes provided with other decorative elements.
The auction's sculpture is documented from Kaipiainen's separate exhibition at Wärtsilä in Helsinki in 1958.


Birger Kaipiainen began his career at the Arabia Art Department in 1937 and quickly found his own way to make art. The soon-to-begin Winter War and several losses in his personal life cast a dark shadow over the beginning of his artistic career, and this manifested as sadness and longing in his early works. They are dominated by ethereal, fairy-tale-like characters depicted in pastel tones, with references to early Italian Renaissance and longing for a more beautiful world.

In the 1950s, Kaipiainen introduced three-dimensionality and graphic stylization in his work. The colour scheme also gradually became darker and more intense. Kaipiainen spent the years 1954–1958 in Sweden working as a studio artist at the Rörstrand porcelain factory. During that time, the artist could fulfil oneself and his production became progressively inspired by surrealism. A recurring theme over the decade was round-faced and slender female figures who either emerged from a table or the surface of the wall or was standing unattached as totemic figures.

After returning from Sweden, Kaipiainen was already a well-known artist both back home in Finland and abroad. The recognition allowed him more freedom, and he was given more space to express himself and his ideas in the Arabia Art Department. During that time, in addition to the focus on shape, the surface of the object became a central aspect of Kaipianen´s artworks. In the 1960s, Kaipiainen introduced ceramic beads to his art, threaded on an iron wire that was attached to the surfaces made out of plates. This was considered astounding at the time. Simultaneously, figures of human became less prominent motifs in his art and his work became even larger and more ornate.

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