Little-known life of Moomins creator Tove Jansson explored in new exhibition

Paris CNN The Moomin characters may be internationally famous, but a new exhibition in Paris shows a lesser-known side to the Finnish artist who created them.

The show takes an intimate look into the life of Tove Jansson, both as a prolific artist and an advocate for female independence. Previously unseen ephemera highlights “the complexities of someone who created her own rules as a female and queer artist,” said the show’s curators Sini Rinne-Kanto and Tuukka Laurila, “operating in a male-dominated universe in the years before and after World War II.”


Using illustrations, cartoons, photography, music, writings and letters, the exhibition shows Jansson as a multifaceted character who could — and did — make art out of almost anything.

An outspoken and visionary female artist

“From an early age, she knew she wanted to be an artist, there was something unwavering about it,” said Thomas Zambra, one of Jansson’s grandnephews in an interview with CNN.

Art was a path Jansson followed from the start, supported by her artist parents — her mother, Signe Hammarsten was a famous Finnish illustrator and her father, Viktor Jansson, an illustrious sculptor.

Tove Jansson’s first chance to make a name for herself came aged just 15 when her mother was called away to Stockholm and arranged for her daughter to take over a commission for the cover of a children’s magazine. It was the start of her recognized artistic life.