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Collection highlights

Exhibition Views 2012

October 24, 2012 – February 10, 2013, Kumu Art Museum, Cabinet of Prints and Drawings 
When socialist realism and the 'rough style' had run their course by the 1960s, powerful colours appeared in Estonian graphic art instead of greys and blacks. From narrative and descriptive content, the focus moved to the internal developments in art, and media-centred issues. Whether it was conscious or not, the colour approach reflected faith in progress and optimism, the Sixties' doctrine of human socialism.
The ascetic purity of geometric forms in conjunction with bright colours created the illusion of balance and harmony. At the turn of the 1960s and 70s, Estonian graphic art was also strongly affected by international abstract expressionism and pop art, even though those influences reached here through several intermediaries.

Curator of the exhibition: Anne Untera

October 19 – December 30, 2012, Kumu Art Museum, Contemporary Art Gallery  The exhibition, which was compiled by four Estonian curators, provides an overview of contemporary art activities in Estonia and focuses, to a greater extent than usual, on the artistic activities in Tallinn, Tartu and Pärnu, and on the examination of the art institutions and groups that have influenced this art triangle.

Curators of the exhibition: Eha Komissarov, Hilkka Hiiop, Rael Artel, Kati Ilves

September 28, 2012 – January 27, 2013, Kumu Art Museum, 4th floor, B-wing 
IRWIN, a five-member group of painters, was created in 1983 in Ljubljana, as the art wing of the Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) group, along with the Laibach industrial band. The activities of NSK aspired to undermine the reigning ideology and expose the functioning mechanisms of this ideology.
In its creative work during the 1980s, IRWIN proceeded from the "retro-principle", which consisted of reusing and combining ready-made images from the history of art and culture. In their paintings, they juxtaposed the avant-garde propaganda art of the totalitarian regimes of the early 20th century, thereby dealing with the last century's most revolutionary modernist utopias, the complicated intertwining of art and politics, the ideology that dominated art relations and the power of images.
Starting in the 1990s, IRWIN's art practices have been characterised by parallels between aesthetics and institutional criticism, the creation of discussion platforms and international dialogue.

Curator of the exhibition: Ellu Maar

September 14, 2012 – January 20, 2013, Kumu Art Museum, Great Hall 
The exhibition examines fashion and related phenomena in Estonia from the 1950s to the 1970s, providing a captivating insight into the life of Soviet Estonian women and the dialogue with Western fashion. Fashion and the Cold War combines politics with fashion and, among other things, describes the developments and aspirations of Soviet fashion, based on the example of the fashion designers at the Tallinn Fashion House and Siluett fashion magazine. The exhibition strives to reveal the dual role played by Soviet fashion: mediating the West to the East and presenting the East to the West. In the East-West face-off, the intimate nature of fashion produced surprising results – fashion can be considered to be the most successful border crosser of the Cold War. All great wars change clothing habits and reform fashion. The Cold War, which lasted for fifty years, was very closely related to fashion because, along with the arms race, a relentless economic battle was fought between the West and the East. The systems made the greatest efforts in the 1950s and 1960s to improve their images by increasing the living standards of their countries and people. For instance, the Tallinn Fashion House was established in 1957 in order, along with other similar fashion houses, to mould the appearance of the Soviet people and surpass the West.

Curators of the exhibition: Eha Komissarov and Berit Teeäär

August 31, 2012 – January 6, 2013, Kumu Art Museum, 3rd floor, B-wing 
The exhibition Geometrical Man. The Group of Estonian Artists and Art Innovation in the 1920s and 1930s provide a survey of the history of the development of the Group of Estonian Artists, Estonia's first group of avant-garde artists.

Curator of the exhibition: Liis Pählapuu

June 8 – August 30, 2012, Kumu Art Museum, Contemporary Art Gallery 
Jaakko Niemelä is the curator and author of the concept for Speed of Darkness. This is supplemented by Other Stories, an exhibition that interprets the same subject, which was initiated by Eha Komissarov.
The selected art projects deal with the creation of the material base of darkness and search for a means to allow darkness to be transformed into material for an installation, by activating darkness. Darkness becomes functional when we decipher it as separate phenomena, between which the artists create significant connections and points of contact, by using metaphysical opportunities and experiences from everyday life.

May 18 – September 9, 2012, Kumu Art Museum, 4th floor, B-wing
The exhibition summarises some of the directions pursued in the art practices of Tõnis Vint, one of the key figures in Estonian art in the second half of the 20th century. These are characterised by aesthetic universalism and the aspiration to create a harmonious visual environment.
This exhibition examines Tõnis Vint's art practices as a unique total work of art, which offers a model for ordering both the space inside the picture and the actual environment. Vint's aesthetic universalism and the aspiration to create a harmonious visual environment have found expression in graphic series, in book, poster, stage and interior designs and in visions for the redesign of Tallinn's cityscape, as well as in comparative studies of visual sign systems.

Curator of the Exhibition: Elnara Taidre

May 4 – August 26, 2012, Kumu Art Museum, Grand Hall
The former TV producer Jef Rademakers's painting collection contains more than a hundred works of art created by Dutch and Belgian artists in the years 1806–1870. The lion's share of the paintings, however, are from the period 1840–1855, when the Romantic approach to nature was intertwined with the lifestyle of the post-Napoleonic Biedermeier era, which valued domesticity and family. Rademakers owns outstanding examples from the oeuvre of Basile de Loose, Bart van Hove, Barend Cornelis Koekkoek and the latter's students: Jacob Abels, Andreas Schelfhout, Petrus van Schendel and others.
Jef Rademakers's collection has been created with an admirable sense of style and determination. The collector set the goal of rehabilitating the long-forgotten Belgian and Dutch 19th-century Romanticism, and thus helped to break several stereotypes prevalent in the history of art.

Curator of the Exhibition: Tiina Abel

March 28 - October 29, 2012, Kumu Art Museum, Cabinet of Prints and Drawings
Jüri Kaarma’s leporello The Black Horse, which is almost seven meters long when unfolded, combines photo-based charcoal drawings, gouache sketches and ink drawings, with each page dealing with a separate topic. The charm of The Black Horse is hidden in the randomness characteristic of the format and the element of surprise. The descriptions of states of mind, reality and fantasy constitute a unique whole, and the only connective traits are the photo-based drawings of the black horse.

Curator of the exhibition: Eha Komissarov
Exhibition design: Aadam Kaarma

March 23 - August 12, 2012, Kumu Art Museum, 3rd floor, B-wing
The Kumu Art Museum exhibition is devoted to Russian art in the late 19th century, displaying the inherent complexity, expressiveness and interconnectedness of the artistic processes of the time. The emphasis is on the work of Realist artists who formed the Society for the Travelling Art Exhibitions. The reality of life inspired brilliantly talented and surprisingly different artistic personalities: Vasily Perov, Ilya Repin, Ivan Kramskoy, Ivan Shishkin, Alexey Savrasov, Isaac Levitan and many others. There is a great deal of beauty in nature, and natural beauty is depicted in this art, reflected through the prism of truth. The works shown at the exhibition represent different aspects of Russian Realism – critical, poetic and objective Realism – and give an idea of how reality was conveyed by means of plein air painting and Impressionist means of expression. The paintings of Russian Realists were more closely connected with the historical, political and social life of Russia than they had been previously.

Curators of the exhibition: Aleksandra Murre, Tiina Abel

January 27 - April 15, 2012, Kumu Art Museum, Great Exhibition Hall
The Estonian painter Kaido Ole is exhibiting a few dozen of his newest works in Kumu’s large hall. Provisionally, they could be called still lifes, although they are not simply compositions consisting of colours and shapes, but witty responses providing surprisingly cutting commentaries on the balance of today’s world. Prosaic everyday details unexpectedly come into sharp focus, but do not provide recognisable situations or secure solutions – something seems to be awry.

Coordinator of the exhibition: Ragne Nukk

January 20 - May 13, 2012, Kumu Art Museum, Contemporary art gallery
Sharp-witted artistic solutions of eleven most promising young Danish artists provide an opportunity for public to rediscover the world of illusions.
The artists participating in SPATIUM use methods related to artistic illusion in order to explore the development of pictorial portrayals; their extensive treatments include the dimensions of both the past and future. There is less spectacular showing off in these works and more refined cognizance, humour and poetic formalism. These artists from the same generation work in various media, but they are united by their method of working with materials, which turns its attention to the object itself or the way in which we perceive the surrounding world.

Curator of the exhibition: Maria Kjær Themsen

January 6 - April 29, 2012, Kumu Art Museum, Great Exhibition Hall
With an apocalyptic vision and by mixing iconographical methods and manners of expression of various eras, Šarūnas Sauka paints today’s Babel: sins and brothels, vanity and madness, battle and pilgrimage. These are just some of the topics through which Sauka as a chronicler of a country with a proud past, records himself and the surrounding world.

Curator of the exhibition: Tamara Luuk

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