Kumu invites everybody to the International Autumn Conference Art and Political Reality

Art Museum of Estonia
Kumu Art Museum

Press release no. 101
18 October 2012

On Friday, 26 October and on Saturday, 27 October, the Kumu Art Museum would like to invite everybody to the Kumu lecture hall for the 4th International Autumn Conference Art and Political Reality. The conference is organised by the art museum and analyses the impact of political decisions and Cold War politics on the developments in art from the end of World War II until the late 1970s. Participation in the conference requires pre-registration and is free of charge. The working language at the conference is English.

“The focus of this year’s autumn conference is not art history in the narrow sense of the term, but rather the mapping of general social and political processes that have significantly affected the visual culture,” says Sirje Helme, Director-General of the Art Museum of Estonia. “Although the conference mostly deals with Estonian issues, its wider objective is to discuss and compare the actual effect of political decisions on the visual culture of the whole Central and Eastern Europe.”

One of the focal points of the conference is the political and psychological mechanisms that were used (in the Soviet Union) to direct art and to work on people’s mentality (veiled propaganda from the West). It also looks at the various fields of visual art, such as design, fashion, unique applied art and mass culture, which were not under the direct control of, or controlled by orders from, politicians, but where the results of ideological struggle were most visible. Thus, the conference creates a useful platform for examining the visual culture influenced by the Cold War politics and ideologies.

Cultural politics during the Cold War depended directly on the practical politics between the countries. This not only involved compliance with the ideological guidelines established in the Soviet Union, but also counter-propaganda from the West. The latter could either be direct and linked with national programmes, for example American exhibitions in Moscow, or indirect, manifested in the changing significance of Western mass culture in the Central and Eastern European states. Even though the countries in the Communist Bloc differed in their cultural politics, and Moscow actually granted an occasional exception to different regions of the Union, the major political mechanisms and methods were, to a large extent, the same.

The conference is part of a series of events dealing with the relationships between the Cold-War-era visual culture and politics. The series also includes the Kumu Art Museum exhibition Fashion and the Cold War, and participation in the international project The Desire for Freedom. Art in Europe since 1945, curated by the German Historical Museum (the 30th Council of Europe exhibition).


Maria Jäärats
Conference Assistant
E-mail: maria.jaarats@gmail.com

Conference programme:

Friday, 26 October 10 am – 5 pm

Subtopic I: Manipulation from the West – conscious or not? Strategies to influence local culture
Subtopic II: Political guidelines from Moscow. Limits and limitations

Saturday, 27 October 10 am – 5 pm

Subtopic III: Cultural-political fluctuations. The ways local authorities manipulated art
Subtopic IV: Objective and visual art affected by political reality

Attention! An updated programme and conference vision can be found on the homepage of the Art Museum of Estonia at


This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Additional information:

Evelina Vedom
Communication Specialist
Tel: + 372 602 6059
Mob: + 372 5684 6845
Fax: + 372 602 6002
E-mail: evelina.vedom@ekm.ee
Art Museum of Estonia
Weizenbergi 34 / Valge 1
10127 Tallinn