The purpose of this book is to reacquaint the public with the fine prints of Richard Kaljo (1914–1978), one of Estonia’s outstanding masters of the wood engraving technique, and to introduce the works in the Art Museum of Estonia’s collections that provide a good survey of Kaljo’s varied oeuvre, its developments and interruptions. Kaljo was a member of the generation of Estonian artists for whom World War II was a great upheaval. Kaljo’s years at the Higher Art School Pallas in Tartu, which represented moderate modernism and from which he graduated in 1940, played a decisive role in the development of his artistic convictions. Like most of the Estonian artists who shared his fate, Kaljo’s work was erratic during the discordant war years and even more so during the first Soviet decade, on which the imposition of Socialist Realism left a brutal imprint. Greater stability and self-confidence did not arrive until the late 1950s, when the withdrawal of ideological pressure allowed the artist to again work in a more individual manner and develop topics that were closer to his heart.
2014 marks 100 years since Kaljo’s birth, and 50 years since his last large solo exhibition. In addition to his fine prints, Kaljo was a greatly respected and internationally recognised master of book-plate art. He also made an important contribution to Estonian book illustration. For both of these genres, as well as for his fine prints, the artist preferred using a wood engraving technique, of which he was one of the outstanding Estonian masters of his era.
Written by Elnara Taidre
Designed by Külli Kaats
In Estonian and English, illustrated
Published by the Art Museum of Estonia – Kumu Art Museum
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