New books

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.

Abundance and Ephemerality. Still Lifes from Finnish and Baltic Collections

KAANED.inddEdited by Kerttu Männiste
Texts by Fred Meijer, Matthias Depoorter, Minna Tuominen, Viktoria Markova, Jaan Elken and Kerttu Männiste
Designed by Peeter Laurits
144 pp.
In Estonian and English, illustrated
Published by the Art Museum of Estonia – Kumu Art Museum
Tallinn 2016

Abundance and Ephemerality. Still Lifes from Finnish and Baltic Collections, an exhibition at the Kadriorg Art Museum, a branch of the Art Museum of Estonia, introduces art of the still life genre from the 17th century until the present day to the public. The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated book comprised of analytical articles by a range of international authors. The regional differences, themes and iconographic meanings of the still life genre are dealt with in the book, with articles by noted European researchers of still lifes.

In his introductory article, Fred Meijer (RKD-Netherlands Institute for Art History) provides a summary of the general developments in the genre related to history, themes and painting techniques. Matthias Depoorter (Flemish Art Collection) provides both a naturalist and art history approach to compositions depicting both living and dead birds. The work of the Dutch painter of vanitas-style still lifes Edwaert Collier is discussed by Minna Tuominen (Finnish National Gallery, Sinebrychoff Art Museum). Viktoria Markova (Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts) maps the development of the genre, from Caravaggio’s innovations to Baroque spatial and form dynamics. The artist and lecturer on painting Jaan Elken (Estonian Artists Association, Estonian Academy of Arts) examines the work of Estonian contemporary artists by dealing with the various possibilities of the interpretation and further development of still lifes and the genre as a breeding ground for contemporary art experiments.

Colouring book “Tales of the Kadriorg Palace. For Colouring and Puzzling Fun”

Kadrioru_varviraamat_kaas_480x297_3mm.inddWritten by Eneli Raal and Jane Meresmaa-Roos
Illustrators: Anu Kalm and Kätlin Tischler
Designed by Kätlin Tischler
18 pictures to colour, sticker pages
Texts in Estonian, English and Russian
Published by the Art Museum of Estonia – Kadriorg Art Museum
Tallinn 2016
EAN 4742506005450

The pictures in this colouring book feature people, animals, angels and stoves, as well as many other objects from the paintings of the Kadriorg Art Museum and the rooms of the Kadriorg Palace. You can find them when you walk around in the museum or search the web page at

The Rode Altar in Close-Up

72dpi_esikaas_rode_altar_lahivaatesEdited by Hilkka Hiiop, Merike Kurisoo
Designed by Villu Plink
152 pp.
In Estonian and English, illustrated
Published by the Art Museum of Estonia – Niguliste Museum
Tallinn 2016
ISBN 978-9949-485-60-4

This book brings together and presents the results and the current situation of the research and conservation project “The Rode Altar in Close-Up”, carried out in 2013–2016. The articles written by the participants in the research project present the methodology, use and results of the latest natural scientific and imaging technological analyses in studying a late medieval work of art. This richly illustrated book, containing an abundance of historical photographs, also includes an overview introducing the oeuvre of the master Hermen Rode from Lübeck, and a comprehensive discussion of the history of the restoration of the Rode altarpiece.

The altarpiece of the high altar of Tallinn’s St. Nicholas’ Church is one of the most splendid and best preserved late medieval northern German altarpieces in the world. This altarpiece was commissioned from the Lübeck workshop of the master Hermen Rode and was completed in 1478–1481. The Art Museum of Estonia Niguliste Museum’s project “The Rode Altar in Close-Up” focuses on the conservation and technical analyses of the altarpiece of the high altar of Tallinn’s St. Nicholas’ Church. The involvement of imaging and information technological analyses and material examinations, the thorough documentation of the work, and the mapping of the information are important in this project. A great deal of attention has been directed to involving the public through educational programmes, workshops and multimedia programmes reflecting the results of the research conducted (website, blog, interactive multimedia programme, scienceweb, etc.). Visitors can find out about the conservation and research work being conducted on site at the Niguliste Museum, where a studio has been set up, together with an exhibition that will expand over time.

Between the Archive and Architecture. Neeme Külm, Krista Mölder and Taavi Talve

72dpi esikaas Arhiivi ja arhitektuuri vahelThe catalogue accompanies the exhibition “Between the Archive and Architecture. Neeme Külm, Krista Mölder and Taavi Talve” at the Kumu Art Museum (17.09.2016–19.02.2017). Neeme Külm, Krista Mölder and Taavi Talve work mainly in Tallinn, and they all use different media in their art. All three artists share a common focus on space, on the various ways of experiencing it and the possible ways of approaching it.

Neeme Külm (1974) is an installation artist whose art is characterised by site-specific works that manipulate space.

Krista Mölder (1972) is an artist whose works are mainly camera-based. Her highly sensitive and detailed approach brings out the cognitive and poetic qualities of the environments she captures.

Taavi Talve (1970) has been active in the media-critical art group Johnson ja Johnson, and has made use of archival and referential source material in his solo works before.

“Space is a doubt: I have constantly to mark it, to designate it.” (G. Perec)

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Conductors of Colour. Music and Modernity in Estonian Art

72dpi_esikaas_varvide_dirigendidWritten by Bart C. Pushaw
Designed by Kätlin Tischler
136 pp.
In Estonian and English, illustrated
Published by the Art Museum of Estonia – Kumu Art Museum
Tallinn 2016
ISBN 978-9949-485-58-1

This book accompanies an exhibition of the same name at the Kumu Art Museum (18.11.2016–27.08.2017). The man behind the idea for “Conductors of Colour: Music and Modernity in Estonian Art” is the young American art historian and curator Bart C. Pushaw. As a person who has for a while been interested in the art of Nordic and Baltic countries, he is fascinated by early 20th century Estonian art, the nature of our visual culture and our archetypes. The subject matter of the exhibition and the book thus stems from one of the more powerful narratives in Estonian mythology and Estonia’s international image: Estonia as a country of music, singing and song festivals. The outsider’s view of Estonia is often honest and fresh, bringing new breezes to locally established ideas and shining new light on familiar topics. “Conductors of Colour”, which looks at the classics of Estonian art through the prism of music and sound, leaving aside the usual chronological approach, as well as the issues of nationalism and style. Under such subtopics as “Coloursounds”, “Musicians and Modesty”, “Ancient Sounds”, “Singing Landscapes”, “Jazz” and so on, the book accompanying the display offers a variety of subjective, inventive and emotional image analyses, which deal with the melodious allegories of form and colour as well as opening up the sociocultural context of the included works of art.

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Juhan Kuus. The Measure of Humanity. 45 Years of Documentary Photography in South Africa

72dpi Juhan Kuus_kaas
Edited by Kersti Koll, Kristel Laur and Toomas Järvet
Texts by Gavin Furlonger, Ferit Düzyol, Birgit Püve, Kristel Laur, Toomas Järvet and Kersti Koll
Designed by Tuuli Aule
265 pp.
In Estonian and English, illustrated
Published by the Art Museum of Estonia – Adamson-Eric Museum
Tallinn 2016
ISBN 978-9949-485-56-7

The book accompanies the exhibition “Juhan Kuus. The Measure of Humanity. 45 Years of Documentary Photography in South Africa” at the Adamson-Eric Museum (19.08.2016–15.01.2017).

This is the first time that an exhibition providing a comprehensive overview of the creative legacy of Juhan Kuus (1953─2015) will be held in Estonia. Juhan Kuus was an internationally renowned photographer of Estonian descent who was born and worked in South Africa. The exhibition is accompanied by a substantial, richly illustrated catalogue. The purpose of the exhibition project is to give this world-class photographer, who is practically unknown in Estonia, and his legacy a worthy place in the cultural scene and in the cultural history of Estonia. The exhibition is part of the long-term goal of the Art Museum of Estonia and the Adamson-Eric Museum to map and study the art and culture of Estonians living abroad, and to introduce artists from different generations of our diaspora to audiences in Estonia.

Juhan Kuus started working as a photo reporter at the age of 17, and developed into one of the most influential and radical photographers of South Africa during his 45-year-long career. His photos, which were taken with utter devotion, direct poignancy and unyieldingly close contact to what he was shooting, found their way into the world’s leading newspapers, journals, exhibitions and photo festivals. He received dozens of awards, including South Africa Press Photographer of the Year on several occasions, and is the only photographer of Estonian descent ever to have received the most prestigious press photo award in the world: the World Press Photo Award, which he won twice, in 1978 and 1992.

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Cold Look. Variations of Hyperrealism in Estonian Art

EH_Kaaned_820x280+5mm.inddWritten by Anu Allas
Designed by Külli Kaats
96 pp.
In Estonian and English, illustrated
Published by the Art Museum of Estonia – Kumu Art Museum
Tallinn 2016
ISBN 978-9949-485-53-6

The book accompanies the exhibition “ Cold Look. Variations of Hyperrealism in Estonian Art” at the Kumu Art Museum (13.05.–09.10.2016). The purpose of the exhibition and the book is not to serve as a comment on international photorealist art, but rather to study Estonian hyperrealist art as a separate phenomenon rooted in local circumstances and spatial experiences. In the middle of the 1970s, youth exhibitions in Estonia began to display works that were painted in a very realistic manner, but there seemed to be something different about them. The trend soon came to be called, appropriately, hyperrealism. It spread fast in youth art, and in a short time acquired the significance of a school of art. The imitation of photographic two-dimensional depiction and the novel choice of motifs brought a completely different experience of viewing art into realism-loving Estonia. At first glance, this art seems particular and representational but, on closer inspection, it is clear that it abandons reality and uses mediated and processed information instead, becoming surprisingly mundane and somewhat bleak, as well as distanced from the romantic artist’s position.

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