As of 7 July, the Kumu Art Museum welcomes you to the exhibition Chronicles of Art Life, presenting a selection of photos on the art and cultural scene in Estonia from the 1940s to the 1980s

Art Museum of Estonia
Kumu Art Museum
Press release

The ways that artists and the art scene have been recorded have changed in response to changes in art and society. Chronicles of Art Life draws attention to how photographers have shaped our understanding of art history: they are not merely documenters, but also active co-creators.

Even though there are vastly different photos in each decade, the 1960s revealed some fundamental breaks both in photography and art. While in the previous decades, the persona of the photographer mostly stayed in the shadows, in the 1960s it came forcefully to the foreground and a number of photographers developed their own recognisable styles. The photos themselves, created by, for instance, Jaan Klõšeiko, Jüri Tenson, Kalju Suur and Valdur Vahi (to name just a few) are just as artistic as the activities recorded. At the same time, the photographers started to turn their lenses to a much wider sphere of the artists’ lives than they used to: their social life and friends, homes and studios, the artist’s place in his surroundings. As the focus of the art scene moved away from the individual creator and his work to events and processes, the photos documenting these events and processes became increasingly more important in the history of art.

Chronicles of Art Life shows only a tiny part of what was going on in the Estonian art and cultural life in the second half of the 20th century. The display could be supplemented by hundreds, even thousands, of photographs that are just as characteristic and evocative of their era. On the other hand, there were also numerous events that were never recorded; these should be reconstructed via other means, or they will eventually be completely forgotten. This illustrates wonderfully how much our understanding of art history – its key moments and main characters has been shaped by those who were, or were not, present with their cameras.

Photographers: Arvo Iho, Annika Jönsson, Jaan Klysheiko, Konstantin Kuzmin, Elmar Köster, Gunnar Loss, Rein Maran, Ilmar Prooso, Artur Rätsep, Jaan Rõõmus, Matti Saanio, Andrei Solovyov, Kalju Suur, Paul Talvre, Jüri Tenson, Tõnu Tormis, Valdur Vahi, Rein Välme and others

The exhibition will remain open until 12 November.
The press album of the exhibition can be viewed here.

Exhibition curator: Anu Allas
Exhibition designer: Reimo Võsa-Tangsoo
Graphic designer: Külli Kaats

We thank: Raul Kalvo, Helen Oja and USB Repro
Cooperation partner: Tallinn Photomonth

Anu Allas
Exhibition Curator
+372 602 6056, 5340 3356