Publications by Kumu 2017

Children of the Flowers of Evil. Estonian Decadent Art

Kurja lillede lapsed

Edited by Mirjam Hinrikus, Lola Annabel Kass and Liis Pählapuu
Texts by Mirjam Hinrikus and Lola Annabel Kass
Designed by Angelika Schneider
240 pp.
In Estonian, summary in English, illustrated
Published by the Art Museum of Estonia – Kumu Art Museum
Tallinn 2017
ISBN 978-9949-485-68-0

The book accompanies the exhibition Children of the Flowers of Evil. Estonian Decadent Art at the Kumu Art Museum (09.09.2017–25.02.2018). This project is an intriguing study of the searches of creatively active people at the beginning of the 20th century, and their reactions to the changing and modernising world. Comparative links between literature and fine arts have been established, and the critical and blasé artists and writers of European metropolises and the first generation of Estonian intelligentsia have been juxtaposed. Charles Baudelaire’s authoritative poems serve as the background against which the attitudes and approaches of a number of Estonian writers and artists, including Friedebert Tuglas, August Gailit, Johannes Semper, Erik Obermann, Eduard Wiiralt, Konrad Mägi and Nikolai Triik, to the fashionable word of the time, “decadence”, become evident. Light is also shed on the more melancholy, sexual, (self-)destructive and sickly aspects of their creative work. The aim of this exhibition and book, however, is not to retell the story of the life and work of a few artists, but rather to provide a more general analysis of the decadent spirit of early-20th-century art and literary circles. Thus, the choice of materials for this exhibition is, in fact, a broad visual-cultural study embracing a noteworthy number of Estonian artists and involving a large number of works from the cross-over area between art and literature: prints, book illustrations and book plates. A number of works that ended up being reproduced in this book have never been discussed in Estonian art history before, and this is the first time they are presented to the general public.

Jüri Okas

72dpi esikaas raamat OkasEdited by Sirje Helme and Jüri Okas
Texts by Sirje Helme and Andres Kurg
Designed by Tuuli Aule
280 pp.
In Estonian and English, illustrated
Published by the Art Museum of Estonia – Kumu Art Museum
Tallinn 2017
ISBN 978-9949-485-67-3

This book accompanies a large-scale retrospective of Jüri Okas’s work in the Kumu Art Museum (07.04.–27.08.2017). Jüri Okas is seen as iconic both in architecture – as a member of the Tallinn School and the founder of the architecture bureau J. Okas & M. Lõoke – and in fine art. Okas’s artistic activity had its beginnings in the 1970s and he has produced work in a wide range of media: happenings, land art, film, photography, and prints from photographs and films. By distancing himself from the officially approved Soviet ideology and being in a complex dialogue with the Western avant-garde, Okas became one of the most fascinating contemporary artists in Estonia. His keen sense of observation and conceptual treatment of space have never ceased to intrigue researchers and critics of different generations.

Two complementary studies are included in the book. Dr. Sirje Helme, a contemporary of Jüri Okas and a long-time interpreter of his work, looks at the considerable gap between young art of the 1970s and the language used by critics to interpret it, claiming that this did not help to prepare the ground for conceptual art, and that Jüri Okas stood quite alone. Dr Andres Kurg, in his article, analyses the in-betweenness of Okas’s visual art, which is expressed by the recurrent motifs of buildings falling into disrepair or being under construction, of walls descending or ascending.

The artist and architect Jüri Okas has contributed a great deal to the exhibition and the book, and the conceptual clarity and refined aesthetics of his work will definitely dictate the form and ways of its reception.

Anu Põder. Be Fragile! Be Brave!

72dpi esikaas Anu P6derEdited by Rebeka Põldsam
Texts by Eha Komissarov, Rebeka Põldsam and Jan Verwoert
Designed by Brit Pavelson
144 pp.
In Estonian and English, illustrated
Published by the Art Museum of Estonia – Kumu Art Museum
Tallinn 2017
ISBN 978-9949-485-66-6

The book accompanies the exhibition of the same name at Kumu Art Museum (17.03.–06.08.2017). AnuPõder (1947–2013) was one of the most fascinating artists in contemporary Estonian sculpture and installation art. Starting her career in the 1970s, her work mostly dealt with family life, internal struggles and the emotional realm, framed by the constraining norms and taboos of the Soviet regime. Thanks to Anu Põder’s artistic position we can see clearly the effect social development had on the life and options of an individual, how each person became someone else’s context. Unlike her peers, Põder used ephemeral materials: textile, wax, plaster, soap, epoxy, plastic, and wood, and used herself as the measure of her works. Her art works even age like people; they change colour, become deformed, disintegrate, but their initial fragile nature becomes increasingly apparent and vivid over time, offering new possibilities for interpreting all of Estonia’s recent history.

IV B. Addenda to Soviet-era art history 3
Symmetrical Worlds – Mirrored Symmetries: Ülo Sooster, Juri Sobolev, Tõnis Vint and Raul Meel

Edited by Elnara Taidre
Selection of reproductions by Anna Romanova
Texts by Anna Romanova and Eha Komissarov
Designed by Tuuli Aule
256 pp.
In Estonian, English and Russian, illustrated
Published by the Art Museum of Estonia – Kumu Art Museum
Tallinn 2017
ISSN 2382-8048
ISBN 978-9949-485-65-9

The book accompanies the exhibition of the same name at Kumu Art Museum (03.03.–11.06.2017) and is the third book from the “Addenda to Soviet-era art history” series. The series is accompanied by exhibitions in the B-wing of the fourth floor of the Kumu Art Museum that offer insight into Soviet-era Estonian art. Among other things, the focus lies on specific topics and phenomena that have received relatively little coverage in art historiography and deserve new approaches.

This book deals with art contacts between Moscow and Tallinn from the 1960s to the 1980s. It focusses on the most significant representatives of the Moscow–Tallinn art axis and the most innovative aspects of their art: the publishing of popularscientific material, which was quite a phenomenon in Soviet times, and the use of specific audio-visual solutions. The framework for the discourse is formed by the way the “visual turn” brought about by 20th-century photography, cinema, television and other new media is understood today. The interdisciplinary and quotation-rich language of imagery used by the Moscow–Tallinn circle of artists has been described as a system of conscious visual juxtapositions and searches.

For contributions to the exhibition and the book, the Kumu Art Museum is grateful to the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA) and to Galina Metelitchenko, the curator of Yuri Sobolev’s archive. Good partners in this project have also been the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Central Cinema Museum, the Cultural Foundation Ekaterina, the Russian State University of the Humanities, the Zarya Centre for Contemporary Art, the Tartu Art Museum, the Museum of Estonian Architecture, the Estonian Theatre and Music Museum, and the Estonian National Library. The museum would also like to thank Tõnis and Eva Vint, Raul Meel, Tenno-Pent Sooster, Vladimir Tarasov, Mikhail Alshibaya, Victoria Mochalova, Ben Hellman and Igor Makarevich for making their parts of this valuable visual heritage available.