A Finnish filmmaker
, characterized by his fascination in kinetic art
Eino Ruutsalo was born as Eino Ruuth in Kymi, on September 19, 1921. He changed his surname to Ruutsalo in 1936.
He began his career as a painter in the early 50s, but was soon drawn towards cinema. In 1953 he bought a camera from an army surplus store in New York City, and shot a documentary "New York, usvainen kaupunki" (New York, The Misty City).
Ruutsalo spent the late 50s and early 60s among a loose community of artists dedicated to having an international viewpoint and a freedom from politic views in its works, instead of the traditional patriotism favored in Finland.
During this period Ruutsalo developed an interest towards kinetics, and worked on experimental music video -like movie pieces exploring his new passion. His methods included direct contact to the film by painting on it, scratching the surface, rubbing beeswax on the reels and so on. Some of these works - composed mostly of drawings, photographs and words typed on the film with a typewriter - became known as "visual poems". The artist made most of these pieces all by himself, from producing to editing. While working on movies, he still continued to paint and sculpture.
Inspired by the French new wave movement, Ruutsalo created some feature films in the 60s. These include "Viheltäjät" (Whistlers, 1965); "Laituri" (The Pier, 1965) and "Kaksi Kanaa" (Two Hens, 1965). Most of the movies were shot without a script in big cities like Paris. Ruutsalo's career in long films was brief, as he moved back towards shorter and more experimental works.
He did create several documentaries during the next decade, including one on his long-time idol and source of inspiration Alvar Aalto, around whom Ruutsalo also constructed an exhibition in 1998.
Just like his movies, most of Ruutsalo's sculptures dealt with motion and rhythm. His most well known installation is the big "Wall of Light" at the town hall of Helsinki. His sculptures often used lamps moved by electronic mechanisms.
Eino Ruutsalo is regarded as being one of the major influences on Finnish electronic music, because he often had modern jazz or electronic artists (including Otto Donner) to write and perform his movies' soundtracks.
Eino Ruutsalo died on April 2, 2001 in Helsinki, following a long illness. He continued to work with art until his death, and was said to be very enthusiastic and energetic for his age during the final years.
The first major exhibition of this relatively unknown artist opens in the Helsinki Hall of Art May 12, 2001.
Information gathered from Helsingin Sanomat, IMDb and several art-related web pages.