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Collection highlights

Exhibition Views 2016

November 24, 2016-March 12, 2017, Kumu Art Museum 
Paul Delvaux was not an ordinary Surrealist. With a few exceptions, he largely remained untouched by the activities of this school, wishing to maintain his intellectual independence. The only exception was René Magritte, whose influence can be seen in several works of art displayed at the Kumu exhibition, spanning all of Delvaux’s creative periods.

Curator: Claire Leblanc (Musée d’Ixelles, Brussels)
Designer: Tuuli Aule

November 18, 2016-August 28, 2017, Kumu Art Museum 
From the first song festival through the Singing Revolution and beyond, music has played a fundamental role in Estonian history, culture and identity. But if every bird has its own song, as the Estonian saying goes, what of the artist? What is the role of the painter in a society of “singing people”? This exhibition explores such questions, revealing how music and sound – from the ancient strumming of Vanemuine’s golden kannel and chants of regilaulud to the modern clatter of cafés and the abstraction of the Jazz Age – have transformed modern visual culture in Estonia.

Curator Bart C. Bushaw
Designers: Kärt Einasto and Joonas Rumvolt
Graphic designer: Kätlin Tischler

October 21, 2016-February 12, 2017, Kumu Art Museum 
By focusing on the work of one artist, the exhibition Water Music and Other Pictures of Sound. Vladimir Tarasov aspires to view sound art as a multifaceted art practice and to analyse its connection to music. Tarasov’s work is characterised by sound created with the help of various, often natural substances and materials, and the incorporation of music into sound art. For him, sound is an ephemeral material, the traits of which are revealed and amplified by the installational nature of the work. Using rhythms, sounds and melodies, Tarasov addresses various themes related to cultural history, drawing on both Eastern and Western philosophies and religions.

Curator: Kati Ilves
Exhibition designers: Helen Oja, Raul Kalvo
Graphic designer: Tuuli Aule

September 17, 2016-February 19, 2017, Kumu Art Museum 
Participating artists share a common focus on space, on the various ways of experiencing it and the possible ways of approaching it. This is the first time that an exhibition actually deconstructs the halls of the Contemporary Art Gallery of Kumu. The display includes the latest works by the three artists, who work in different media.
In this context, space can be a particular architectural environment or an unfathomable “non-place”, which usually remains outside the focal point of attention. Space can unravel itself before the viewer along the time axis, or it can stretch out geographically; it may be fiction or reality. The reference to archives and architecture points to the actual venue of the display: the Kumu Art Museum, with its institutional profile, functioning mechanisms and spatial logic.

Curator: Kati Ilves
Exhibition designer: Neeme Külm
Graphic designers: Mikk Heinsoo & Kaarel Nõmmik (Stuudio Stuudio)

September 16, 2016-April 9, 2017, Kumu Art Museum 
Raul Rajangu (1960) stepped into the Estonian art scene at the exhibition of young artists of the Estonian S.S.R. in 1984 with A Sewing Machine and a New Year’s Tree, one of the first works to allude to postmodernism. This was soon followed by On a White Night in Kadriorg Palace (1987) and The Arrival of the Artist R. Rajangu and his Assistants in Viljandi (1988). However, no one at the time realized that the artist had already begun working in the early 1980s, when using his personal artist’s technique he created the series Soviet Midnight (1981–1982). In this series, which stayed “in the drawer” for the next quarter of a century, the artist used all of the elements of Soviet visual culture that he had come into contact with during the late socialist period in the small town of Viljandi. This included the ceremonial album of Lenin that he received as a prize at a history Olympiad, photo albums of Soviet cities found in the attic of the Stalinist culture centre, halcyon but awkward-looking advertising brochures for Soviet manufactured goods, and his family’s albums of black-and-white photos taken on festive occasions.

Curator: Liisa Kaljula
Designer: Villu Plink
Graphic Designer: Tuuli Aule

July 8-November 6, 2016, Kumu Art Museum 
Surrealist photography made creative use of the camera by expanding the limits of imagination. The camera functioned as a third eye, which attuned itself to the layers of meaning in the subconscious. Photography was the index of the changeable symbols – by simultaneously recording the everyday and exposing the new meanings hidden under the surface. Although periods of Marcel Lefrancq’s work cannot be clearly defined – he dealt simultaneously with surrealist and traditional approaches – his activities related to surrealist photography mostly took place between 1937 and 1948. In his later work, Lefrancq abandoned experimental techniques and shot landscape series, especially nocturnal urban landscapes with poetic shading, as well as nude studies and portraits.
Exhibition is based on the collections of Charleroi Museum of Photography

Curator: Xavier Canonne
Designer: Tuuli Aule

July 2-October 30, 2016, Kumu Art Museum 
Alexandre Vassiliev has created stage designs and costumes for several world-famous operas, ballets, plays and films, he has written about 40 books on the history of fashion, and he has produced documentaries, given lectures and worked on a number of fashion-related projects. He also hosts a popular style show on the Russian TV channel Ostankino.
The Alexandre Vassiliev Foundation owns nearly 10,000 historical costumes from the 18th to the 20th centuries, and new items are constantly added to it.

Curators: Marion Laev, Eha Komissarov
Designer: Ursula Sõber
Graphic designer: Kätlin Tischler

June 12-September 12, 2016, Kumu Art Museum 
By the year 2000, all the places on earth were visible via satellite photos: the photo lens had seen the entire space utilised by humans. This creates an image of a totally archived world, an inventoried space, where expeditions of discovery have lost their former meaning.
What does terra incognita – unknown territory – mean today? The Hubble Space Telescope is able to take pictures of galaxies that existed 13 billion years ago. Could the lands of discovery in the future be manifested by getting closer to the past?
The point of departure for Terra incognita: Familiar Infinity is the underused space in the Kumu Art Museum Courtyard. The architectural garden paths and space centre-like courtyard create a feeling of a utopian way station. Actually, the courtyard is located between two contrasting areas: the tunnel at the end of the courtyard leads directly to Soviet-era Lasnamägi and the stairs lead down to Kadriorg Park.
In their work the artists have focused on this place, an empty and out-of-the-way area in the museum, and have opened up paths to places that can only be reached through our imagination. It may also appear that unknown dark matter may remain within the map reader’s internal borders.

Curator: Kirke Kangro

May 13-October 9, 2016, Kumu Art Museum 
The breakthrough of hyperrealism in Estonia came with the youth exhibition of 1975. During the decade that followed, this art trend became immensely popular and was used in a multitude of ways. The photo-like manner of depiction, based on imitating and intensifying photographic images, acquired many different meanings in the Soviet environment.
The aim of this exhibition is to show the hybridity and versatility of Estonian hyperrealism in the 1970s and 1980s. On the one hand, the photographic manner of depiction was a stylistic technique that enabled artists to overplay the demand to create realist art; on the other hand, photography became a partner in dialogue and a mediator of contemporary sensibility, intertwined with the conceptual, metaphysical, critical, symbolist and postmodernist trends that existed in art at the time.
In order to comment or expand on the historical insight into Estonian hyperrealism, some photo-realist works from the 2000s have been included in the exhibition. They either link the photographic manner of depiction to temporality and movement (the principle of seriality), or use it to shift the perception of space or study the materiality of photos.

Curator: Anu Allas
Designer: Anna Škodenko

April 8-August 28, 2016, Kumu Art Museum 
On 17 February 2016, the Kumu Art Museum celebrated its 10th anniversary, which serves as a good reason to focus on one of the main roles of museums: collecting and preserving art, and highlighting processes that are related to this role.
With those aims in mind, the exhibition serves many purposes, and attempts to fulfil several tasks involving the viewer.

Curators: Kati Ilves, Eha Komissarov, Annika Räim
Designers: Raul Kalvo, Helen Oja
Graphic designer: Indrek Sirkel

March 18-June 12, 2016, Kumu Art Museum 
Hyperrealism was born in the late 1960s on the east and west coasts of the U.S. and spread throughout the world in the 1970s. This art trend is characterised by an interest in the contemporary urban environment, and the connected lifestyles and perception of the world. Hyperrealistic paintings include street views, illuminated ads and display windows, cars and motorcycles, brands and fast food eateries, modern interiors and other elements that characterise the metropolitan living environment.

Curator: Otto Letze
Coordinators: Anu Allas and Jana Kende
Designer: Tõnis Saadoja

March 4-June 26, 2016, Kumu Art Museum 
There is a hidden side to the visible history of Estonian art: works that were destroyed or lost, which in some cases constitute entire periods in the creative lives of artists. The fate of lost artworks has largely been determined by the force majeure of randomness and historical events. The conceptual exhibition presents the stories of dozens of art works that have disappeared.

Curator: Liis Pählapuu
Designer: Liina Siib

February 17-September 4, 2016, Kumu Art Museum 
RAM (random access memory) is the main memory of a computer, where data can be accessed by moving to different parts of the memory. The exhibition presents extracts of Estonian computer art and locally created computer games, saved in historical memory.

Curator: Tuuli Lepik
Designers: Tuuli Lepik, Juhan Soomets, Tõnis Jürgens

January 22-May 1, 2016, Kumu Art Museum 
A new synthesis of classical and modern aesthetics appeared in Baltic art in the 1940s–1950s. The phenomenon known as Stalinist impressionism combined ideological demands with impressionist traditions of plein air painting.

Curator: Eha Komissarov
Designer: Anna Shkodenko
Graphic designer: Kätlin Tischler

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