Bronze sculptures from the Estonian Art Museum Collection 08/05/2010 – 01/04/2011

Tallinn Airport

Bronze sculptures from the Estonian Art Museum Collection

There’s no doubt that the sculptures from the Art Museum of Estonia in the old terminal of the Tallinn Airport can be called the contemporaries of the building. The construction of the terminal started in the pre-Second World War years, in the independent Republic of Estonia, but the building was completed in the Soviet times, in 1954. The Estonian sculptors Aleksander Kaasik, Voldemar Mellik and Lydia Laas completed their art studies in the pre-war years; Arseni Mölder, Robi Rannast and Lembit Tolli studied sculpture right after the Second World War, at a time already influenced by the Soviet ideology.

What connects these sculptors to each other is time and the demands it makes on artists. In the decade following the war, all the manifestations of Modernism disappeared from public view. Even nude figures were no longer exhibited at art exhibitions. The art halls were filled with art works depicting progressive workers, war heroes and exemplary pupils, all in a realistic and detailed manner. But there was more. Even in the years of ideological depression, artists found opportunities to make works that fit into the permitted norms, but at the same time delighted the exhibition visitors of the time. Even today, the figures of athletes in active motion and those of Estonian fishermen, chanters and musicians in national dress, with their accurately modelled clothes, instruments, and other features inherent to the era, are truly worth seeing. The depressing time has become history, but the best of the national art heritage is still with us.

In the old airport building, even the white balustrades, the stucco décor, and the strictly geometrical arrangement of space have a different effect today compared to the year 1954, when the darkest period in the history of the Soviet Empire had just ended. Two paintings on the wall, inherent to the era, are reminders of past times: the Moscow view by Viktor Karrus, and the view of Old Tallinn by Richard Sagrits; both works were completed in 1955. The style of Karrus and Sagrits originated in the Pallas Art School in Tartu, during the pre-war years.

The exhibition was composed by Juta Kivimäe and designed by Isabel Aaso-Zahradnikova.