Wäinö Aaltonen: Paavo Nurmi
The state commissioned a sculpture of the multiple Olympic gold medallist Paavo Nurmi (1897-1973) in 1924. This was the first public sculpture commission in independent Finland, and it depicts the athlete naked, according to the ideals of ancient Olympia.
In Turku, Wäinö Aaltonen (1984-1966) wanted the sculpture to face the training grounds in Littoinen, and it stands now on a traffic island on Itäinen Rantakatu. The sculpture highlights the agility of the athlete’s step and the long movements of his body.
Paavo Nurmi is possibly Aaltonen’s most renowned work of art internationally, and five different moulds of the sculpture exist. The first two moulds are in Helsinki in the Ateneum Art Museum and in front of the Olympic Stadium. The third mould is the one unveiled on 26 January 1955 in Turku, the hometown of Nurmi, and the fourth is in the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland where it was donated in 1994 in honour of the centennial of Wäinö Aaltonen. The fifth mould was unveiled in Jyväskylä in 2001.