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Wild Souls. Symbolism in the Art of the Baltic States

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The book accompanies the exhibition Wild Souls. Symbolism in the Art of the Baltic States at the Kumu Art Museum from 12 October 2018 to 3 February 2019. The exhibition was first on display at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris (Âmes sauvages. Le symbolisme dans les pays baltes, from 10 April until 15 July 2018). The exhibition is part of the programme to celebrate the centennial of the Republic of Estonia.

Almost 150 works by notable artists from the art history of the Baltic countries dating from the late 19th century to the 1930s are included in the exhibition. On view are works by Janis Rozentāls, Vilhelms Purvītis, Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, Kristjan Raud, Nikolai Triik, Konrad Mägi, Oskar Kallis and many other great names of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian art from the collections of four Baltic museums: the Latvian National Museum of Art, Art Museum of Estonia, Lithuanian Art Museum and M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art.

The exhibition reveals the specific features of early 20th-century Baltic Symbolism. The local young artists set out to discover the contemporary art movements in Europe, but also had aspirations to help create their own national identities. Their art often intertwines the international artistic idiom with local folk art and symbols of oral heritage. The idea of creative freedom was brought from Western Europe, along with the belief in the ability of art to express the spiritual levels hidden in people.

The catalogue is the first exhaustive treatment of Baltic Symbolism, which is introduced by Rodolphe Rapetti’s essay “Terra incognita”. Rapetti’s essay is motivated by a desire to introduce the works of the artists from the Baltic countries, which the author considers to be unique in the international context of Symbolism, to the broader art public of Western Europe. In addition to abundant pictorial material, the catalogue includes texts by art researchers from the three Baltic states introducing the works included in the exhibition.

Edited by Liis Pählapuu

Authors of the texts: Rodolphe Rapetti, Algė Andriulytė, Daiva Beliūnienė, Marita Bērziņa, Ieva Burbaitė, Aija Brasliņa, Gundega Cēbere, Danutė Gruzdienė, Eero Epner, Linda Kaljundi, Jaak Kangilaski, Lola Annabel Kass, Dace Lamberga, Laima Laučkaitė, Mai Levin, Gunta Madlinska, Aistė Praškevičiūtė, Bart Pushaw, Liis Pählapuu, Julija Račiūnaitė, Jurgita Rimkutė Vainiuvienė and Genovaitė Vertelkaitė-Bartulienė

Graphic design and image editing by Tuuli Aule

Hardcover, size 24 × 30 cm

264 pp.

In Estonian and English, illustrated

Published by the Art Museum of Estonia – Kumu Art Museum

Tallinn 2018

ISBN 978-9949-485-87-1

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