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Collection highlights
The Second World War signifies a critical pause in Estonian history, which also broke the cultural consistency. In 1944 the Soviet Army occupied Estonia and the Soviet power ruled here for almost 50 years. Estonian artists had to accept the canon of Socialist realism, which had been obligatory in the Soviet Union already since 1934. The national schools and the people’s recent beliefs were overridden with terrorist measures. The room “Difficult Choices” describes the complicated position of Estonian artists in the 1940-s. The history of Socialist realism in Estonia began with the artists who were mobilized into the Soviet army in 1941 and who were gradually taken to the rear city Yaroslavl, where they were put to use as war artists. The task of the Yaroslavl group was to learn the methods of Stalinist Socialist realism and to root them in Estonia after the war. Several of these artists held important positions later in Estonia. Evald Okas became one of the most recognized artists at the beginning of the Soviet period. The painting “Artists in Yaroslavl” is a group portrait of those artists who participated in establishing the Soviet Estonian Artists’ Union in 1944 in the rear of the Soviet Union. In a co-studio, which was set up in the rooms of a former shop, Richard Sagrits has been put in the forefront of the picture and you see him festively painting behind the canvas. Sagrits has secured his place in art history mainly as a marine- and landscape painter. In the ranking of Socialist realism the landscape painting belonged among secondary artistic phenomena and exaggeration with that was not approved. Another problem was that artists tried to preserve the traditions of pre-war Modernism in landscape paintings, which were soon declared to be formalistic. On the other hand, the theme of the fishermen found unexpected approval from the Moscow. In the centre of the picture Okas painted the first director of the Soviet Estonian Artists’ Union, Adamson-Eric, with a scarf and in a beret, holding a varnish painting – a new technique, diligently studied at the rear. Already in 1950, during the highlight period of Stalinism, Adamson-Eric became the victim of the persecution. Because of his impressionistically airy manner they accused him of formalism and he was expelled from the Artists’ Union. Also Okas, probably taking example from Adamson-Eric, painted the group portrait in a restless and slightly impressionistic manner. Evald Okas has depicted himself in a profile, holding in his hands a drawing about the front line and some brushes. Suitable to the war situation, Okas exhibits himself and several of his colleagues in “puhvaika”, which is a puffy, thick and formless coat of sheet wadding, which became part of the Estonians´ wardrobe during the Soviet period.

Evald Okas
Estonian Artists in Jaroslavl

 
Artist: Evald Okas (1915 - 2011)
Title: Estonian Artists in Jaroslavl
Date: 1944
Technique:
Material:
oil
canvas
Height (cm): 140.0
Width (cm): 116.7
Description: The Second World War signifies a critical pause in Estonian history, which also broke the cultural consistency. In 1944 the Soviet Army occupied Estonia and the Soviet power ruled here for almost 50 years. Estonian artists had to accept the canon of Socialist realism, which had been obligatory in the Soviet Union already since 1934. The national schools and the people’s recent beliefs were overridden with terrorist measures.
The room “Difficult Choices” describes the complicated position of Estonian artists in the 1940-s. The history of Socialist realism in Estonia began with the artists who were mobilized into the Soviet army in 1941 and who were gradually taken to the rear city Yaroslavl, where they were put to use as war artists. The task of the Yaroslavl group was to learn the methods of Stalinist Socialist realism and to root them in Estonia after the war. Several of these artists held important positions later in Estonia.
Evald Okas became one of the most recognized artists at the beginning of the Soviet period. The painting “Artists in Yaroslavl” is a group portrait of those artists who participated in establishing the Soviet Estonian Artists’ Union in 1944 in the rear of the Soviet Union.
In a co-studio, which was set up in the rooms of a former shop, Richard Sagrits has been put in the forefront of the picture and you see him festively painting behind the canvas. Sagrits has secured his place in art history mainly as a marine- and landscape painter. In the ranking of Socialist realism the landscape painting belonged among secondary artistic phenomena and exaggeration with that was not approved. Another problem was that artists tried to preserve the traditions of pre-war Modernism in landscape paintings, which were soon declared to be formalistic. On the other hand, the theme of the fishermen found unexpected approval from the Moscow.
In the centre of the picture Okas painted the first director of the Soviet Estonian Artists’ Union, Adamson-Eric, with a scarf and in a beret, holding a varnish painting – a new technique, diligently studied at the rear. Already in 1950, during the highlight period of Stalinism, Adamson-Eric became the victim of the persecution. Because of his impressionistically airy manner they accused him of formalism and he was expelled from the Artists’ Union.
Also Okas, probably taking example from Adamson-Eric, painted the group portrait in a restless and slightly impressionistic manner. Evald Okas has depicted himself in a profile, holding in his hands a drawing about the front line and some brushes. Suitable to the war situation, Okas exhibits himself and several of his colleagues in “puhvaika”, which is a puffy, thick and formless coat of sheet wadding, which became part of the Estonians´ wardrobe during the Soviet period.
Related categories: Art during the Soviet Era
Copyright notice: Art Museum of Estonia
AME collection: Paintings collection
Collection number: M 2054
Accretion number: EKM j 2167
Muis reference http://muis.ee/museaalView/1449169
File info: Source type: digital photography
File type: TIF
Compression: Uncompressed
File size: 82.35MB
Resolution: 4795*6001px @ 300dpi
 
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