Gazing at Landscapes: Collection of the Värnik Family
The starting point of the collection of Külli and Peeter Värnik was the painting Autumn by the Pallas artist Aleksander Vardi, obtained in 1999 to mark an important family milestone. When they started their collection, they decided to focus on the first half of the 20th century and the artists associated with the Pallas Art School.
The collectors have selected each piece carefully, thinking of it as not just an object of art but as a companion that will become part of their everyday life, sharing space and energy with them. The art historian Eero Epner has written that, before the Second World War, owning works by Ado Vabbe, Aleksander Vardi and others known now as the masters of the Pallas School was not regarded as exclusive or elitist. Paintings by these authors – contemporary artists of the time – adorned many homes. Being surrounded by art and living with art was what one would expect from a cultivated person in those days. In a way, we may say that in the Värniks’ collection, the artworks have been restored to what was once their natural context and role: to grace and enhance the living environment. Now that the exhibition is on display in Tartu, we can also speak of a homecoming in a different sense: the artworks, several of which are landscapes depicting the surroundings of Tartu and the scenery of south Estonia, have come back to where they were born.
The exhibition is an extended site-specific version of the exhibition held at the Mikkel Museum of the Art Museum of Estonia from November 2020 to March 2021.
Curator: Kerttu Männiste (Art Museum of Estonia)
Exhibition and graphic design: Exporabbit