Current issue

2021/1–2 (30)


Eero Kangor.
Art History and the National Discourse: The Establishment of the Chair of Art History at the Estonian University of Tartu and the Election of its First Professor in 1920–1921
7–33; >Summary 34–38<

The article discusses the relationship of art history and the national discourse in Estonia at the beginning of the 1920s. It is based on a close reading of the correspondence of the officials of the University of Tartu when they were seeking to find prospective candidates, informing and persuading them and discussing their terms for taking part in the competition for the chair of art history. The candidates were concerned about the political and financial situation in the newly established Estonian Republic and also about Germanophobia. The former social elite – the Baltic Germans – who were dispossessed of their properties in 1919 by the Land Reform Act, did play a part in contributing to the formation of the Act. The Act left the Baltic German noblemen their movable private property, such as art collections. The most valuable private art collection in Estonia at that time – the Reinhold Karl von Liphart bequest in the Raadi manor – was allowed by the Estonian parliament to be deported from Estonia in return for donating a third of the collection to the republic. The acquisition of that collection became the motive for finding a professor of art history. Another was the prospect of the restitution of the antique collection of the university, which had been evacuated to Russia during World War I. I argue that practical needs prevailed over ideological considerations and art history was not important for the national discourse before the election of the first art history professor at the University of Tartu.

Krista Kodres. The Hunger for Knowledge and the Need for Dialogue: Art Historians of Estonian SSR Writing to Sten Karling
39–64; >Summary 65–68<

The article deals with the correspondence between three acclaimed and distinguished art historians from the Estonian SSR and University of Stockholm professor Sten Karling from the late 1950s to 1987. Karling was a colleague of Voldemar Vaga and taught Helmi Üprus and Villem Raam at the University of Tartu in pre-war Estonia. The correspondence (consisting of more than 300 letters) is in the care of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. The article focuses on the art historians who lived in the Estonian SSR, above all the main directions of their study of art history. As such, the letters are reflections of art history’s discursive attitudes and methodological mindset.

Karolina Łabowicz-Dymanus. The Library of the Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences: Mirroring ‘Official’ and ‘Unofficial’ Distribution of Knowledge, 1949–1970
69–82; >Summary 83–86<

The Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw served as a unique distributor of Western visual and performative arts research during the Cold War. From its foundation in 1949 until the late 1960s, the institute enjoyed a hegemonic position that allowed it to dominate intellectual exchanges in the arts between Polish and Western scholars. The institute’s library provides information concerning the circulation of art theories at that time. Through extensive private contacts, the institute collected the latest texts on artistic phenomena and theories that authorities perceived as ‘unofficial’. Analysis of the collection allows for a reconstruction of the distribution of knowledge.

Kädi Talvoja. Estonian Art’s International Ties. The Role of the Tallinn Print Triennials
87–104; >Summary 105–110<

Using the case of the Tallinn print triennials as a model, this article examines the role of Baltic art triennials in the region’s art during the Soviet era. One of the most important areas under observation is the attempts to broaden the print triennial into an international event and the impact of the triennial format on perceptions of the development of Estonian art.

Hanno Soans. A Circle of Friends, Relations and Art amidst the Culminating Crisis (1985– 1992) – Quiotism in Transitory Estonia
111–146; >Summary 147–154<

The article is based on the need to provide societal background for concrete artistic phenomena. Here I cover the coming together of a group of people, at first in the form of a circle of bohemian friends and later as an artistic group called Quixotists, and interpret the artistic actions that had direct impacts on their world view. This circle of friends which formed over about five years starting in 1985 consisted of the artist Jaan Toomik (b. 1961), his poet younger brother Tõnu Toomik (1965–1992), the poet and artist Jaan Paavle (1940–2010), the writer Tarmo Teder (b. 1958), the entrepreneur Jaan Jaanisoo (b. 1958), who was also involved in painting, performance art and installations, and the painter Vano Allsalu (b. 1967). As time went on, the role of performative arts became more important in their circle and in their collective identity. Their different attitudes towards performance art in the end also formed one of the causes of polarisation and the falling apart of the group. In the local art history, Quixotists as a group were important as modernisers and transformers of a cult of irrationality indirectly stemming from surrealism. Their appearances in performances turned out to be historical through the manifesting of personal truths, but remained relevant only for a brief period, therefore acting as a breaking point, a redefinition of reality which was previously determined by earlier conventions typical of the Soviet environment.

Andres Kõnno, Teet Teinemaa. 150 Years of Old Barney: The Changing Interpretation Horizons Based on the Old Barney Character
155–178; >Summary 179–182<

This article explores the textual corpus of the Old Barney, a village sage character. Originating from oral folklore traditions and written down by nineteenth-century folklorists, we are particularly interested in the contemporary adaptations of the character by the novelist Andrus Kivirähk and the film director Rainer Sarnet. We demonstrate how a modified version of Algirdas Julien Greimas’s method of analysis, based on oppositions, can be used to interpret the changing ‘expectation horizons’ regarding the textual corpus of the Old Barney. Following Walter Ong’s conception of how written prose led to the creation of more complicated, yet aesthetically playful texts, we show how the more simple ‘flat’ characters from the folk tradition have become ‘rounder’ and more complex in the novel and film versions. However, considering that both versions make use of complicated round characters, such as Old Barney, we illustrate how the changes between the novel and the film are not caused by medium specificity but rather by the fact that the creators attempted to meet expectations related to the different media. We conclude by arguing that the novel more directly targets the local audience, while the film aims for a more universal appeal and thus switches the dominant discourse of the novel.



CHRONICLE 1. I – 31. XII 2020