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Collection highlights

Exhibition Views 2017

November 24, 2917-April 1, 2018, Kumu Art Museum 
Andres Tolts (1949–2014) studied industrial art (design) at the State Art Institute of the Estonian SSR in 1968–1973. This was a time when a large portion of the fresh energy that entered the Estonian art scene came from design and architecture students. They were actively interested in the surrounding environment and wanted to know how an artist could influence and shape that environment. Leonhard Lapin, Ando Keskküla and Andres Tolts constituted the SOUP’69 group, which initiated a conceptual revolution in Estonian art in the late 1960s: instead of the mastery of a technique, they considered ideas to be of primary significance in creating art, and ideas could be expressed by using various means. In their opinion, the main task of an artist was not to imagine new realities, but rather to find new ways of interpreting existing reality.
From 1973 to 1980, Tolts edited and designed the magazine Kunst ja Kodu (Art and Home), which developed into a significant platform for new ideas in art and culture in the Soviet Union. The magazine covered topics related to art, design, and interior and environmental modelling, and built bridges across different eras and disciplines.
In the 1980s, Tolts was one of the pioneers of postmodernism in Estonia, and he became an ardent follower of the principles of postmodernism. During those years, he developed a set of fixed images that he used in his works: fish, birds, screens, blinds, neglected or meaningless architectural objects, still lifes, landscapes and the “picture within the picture” motif. Tolts emphasised the unique expressiveness of visual images, and believed that it was the task of art to develop visual sensitivity in people. His works are not reflections of the surroundings or windows into a different world: they make the essence of being visible.

Curator: Anu Allas
Designer: Tõnis Saadoja
Graphic Designer: Tuuli Aule

September 22, 2017-January 14, 2018, Kumu Art Museum 
Die Brücke (“Bridge” in English) was a German artistic group active in the period 1905–1913. The members of Die Brücke dealt with the inner world of man, full of controversies, hopes and fears. Besides the depiction of various phenomena found in the modern urban environment, Die Brücke artists created numerous landscapes in order to depict the emotional states of humans via nature.
Der Blaue Reiter (“The Blue Rider” in English) was another expressionist group, and was active in the years 1911–1914, centred around Russian emigrants (Wassily Kandinsky, Alexej von Jawlensky and others) and local German artists (Franz Marc, August Macke and others). The members were united in their desire to express themselves on topics related to the universe, the soul and the world of spirits.
Curators: Detmar Westhoff (Westhoff Fine Arts) and Liis Pählapuu
Designers: Artmarket OÜ, M.E.Z. OÜ and Terje Kallast-Luure
Graphic design: Mari Kaljuste

September 9, 2017-February 25, 2018, Kumu Art Museum 
The exhibition takes the viewer into a decadent and Baudelaireian world, characterised by melancholia, cynicism and pessimism, but also by pleasures and a passion for the unusual or peculiar, including androgyny, narcissism and intoxicants.
Decadence reached Estonia at the beginning of the 20th century, soon after the country’s first steps had been taken in creating a national culture and Estonians were looking for their place on the scale of nationalism and Western modernity. The exhibition Children of the Flowers of Evil is the first study of early 20th Century Estonian decadent art.

Curator: Lola Annabel Kass
Designer: Liina Siib
Graphic designer: Angelika Schneider

August 25, 2017-January 28, 2018, Kumu Art Museum 
The Travellers offers a reflection by 24 contemporary artists hailing from 15 countries of the former Soviet Bloc and former Yugoslavia, who show how people, goods, and ideas flow between Central and Eastern Europe and other regions of the world. These artists tell the stories of holiday trips as well as distant journeys and migrations; stories of the closed borders within Europe during the Cold War as well as of the capitalism-driven acceleration of the 21st century. Travellers and migrants themselves, they share their personal experiences of moving between various languages and cultural contexts – the multiplicity of viewpoints particularly needed in the time of heightened nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiments in Europe today.

Curator: Magdalena Moskalewicz

July 7-November 12, 2017, Kumu Art Museum 
The ways that artists and the art scene have been recorded have changed in response to changes in art and society. Chronicles of Art Life draws attention to how photographers have shaped our understanding of art history: they are not merely documenters, but also active co-creators.
Even though there are vastly different photos in each decade, the 1960s revealed some fundamental breaks both in photography and art. While in the previous decades, the persona of the photographer mostly stayed in the shadows, in the 1960s it came forcefully to the foreground and a number of photographers developed their own recognisable styles. The photos themselves, created by, for instance, Jaan Klõšeiko, Jüri Tenson, Kalju Suur and Valdur Vahi (to name just a few) are just as artistic as the activities recorded. At the same time, the photographers started to turn their lenses to a much wider sphere of the artists’ lives than they used to: their social life and friends, homes and studios, the artist’s place in his surroundings. As the focus of the art scene moved away from the individual creator and his work to events and processes, the photos documenting these events and processes became increasingly more important in the history of art.

Curator. Anu Allas
Designer: Reimo Võsa-Tangsoo
Graphic designer: Külli Kaats

June 6, 2017-January 7, 2018, Kumu Art Museum 
On closer inspection the oeuvres of the two authors contain similar elements and issues. Both base their creation in daily life, but approach it in ways that give shape to new realities. Vint does that by ordering and purging everyday motifs, and Samma by both distorting and elevating the mundane.
Vint and Samma’s first joint exhibition, Mare Vint. PARK. Jaanus Samma took place in 2010 at the Tam Gallery.

Curator: Anu Allas
Designer: Jaanus Samma
Graphic designer: Kätlin Tischler

April 7-August 27, 2017, Kumu Art Museum :
Jüri Okas is one of the artists who in the late 1960s and early 1970s set out to overthrow previous values: the principles of art-making drawn from modernist aesthetics. Okas helped pave the way for photography, installation, video and land art. His art has drawn inspiration from architecture, its stages, the relationship between form and formlessness, and the rational and irrational.
Okas’s activity has been associated with Conceptual art: in the early 1970s (he graduated from the Art Institute as an architect in 1974) he started creating land art works and performances and shot about a dozen 8 mm films, all of which provided material for his prints later. With his works and actions Okas abandoned traditional practices of art-making and aesthetics and created an entirely new art discourse, by relying on philosophical principles which put as much importance on viewing and understanding as on the artwork itself.

Co-ordinators: Sirje Helme and Ragne Soosalu
Design: Jüri Okas
Graphic design: Tuuli Aule

March 17-August 6, 2017, Kumu Art Museum 
The exhibition asks: how have the female artists of the 20th and 21st centuries depicted their bodies and subjectivities in relation to the world around them? What connects artists from different countries and generations who have never met and are not always familiar with each other’s work, yet express similar issues through a similar formal logic?

Curator: Rebeka Põldsam
Designers: Maarja Kask, Neeme Külm, Ralf Lõoke
Graphic design: Brit Pavelson, Koit Randmäe

March 3-June 11, 2017, Kumu Art Museum 
The exhibition is dedicated to the history of 20th-century unofficial Soviet art in the context of the development of a new visuality. The 1960s Thaw was a time in the Soviet Union that saw political and cultural reforms that strove for inventiveness. The artists that helped to build the Tallinn-Moscow cultural bridge – Ülo Sooster, Yuri Sobolev, Tõnis Vint and Raul Meel – participated directly in the creation and development of a new world of imagery. This new aesthetic, which was based on postmodernist play and the strict structure of the modular grid – one of the structural elements of the system for the contemporary art idiom – became a universal code that enabled artists to express contemporaneity in very different media, including graphic art, animation and slide films.

Curators: Anna Romanova (Moscow) and Eha Komissarov (Tallinn)
Designers: Helen Oja and Raul Kalvo

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