2010/1−2 (19)


Mari Laanemets.
Happenings und Design – Visionen der Einheit von Kunst und Leben
7−34; >Zusammenfassung 35−41<

This article analyses the relationship between art and design in the context of the rethinking of art and artistic practice in the early 1970s in Estonia. The focus is on the alteration of the originally critical practice of pop art: the engagement with the (Soviet) environment and material culture changed, while looking for alternatives, into a totalitarian gesture of aestheticization. The anti-authoritarian and ironic artist changed into an authoritarian designer of this world. The ambitious effort to unite art and life was part of the ideology of happenings and was carried out on the pages of the magazine Kunst ja Kodu (‘Art and Home’). The author reflects on the claim to Gesamtkunstwerk present in this practice, connecting it with Art Nouveau ideals, as well as with the ideas of William Morris.

Anu Allas. The Soviet Absurd: Estonian art of the 1960s against the backdrop of existentialism
41−67; >Summary 68−72<

The article examines existentialism as one possible backdrop to Estonian art of the 1960s through three topics that emerged in art writing: the ‘philosophical’ nature of art, the question of ‘artistic image’ and the essence of man. Relying on a model created by Martin Esslin, existentialism and the perception of the absurd are partially differentiated. The article also points out the peculiarity of the perception of the absurd in the Cold War-era countries of the Eastern bloc, focusing on ‘moderate modernism’ (‘rough style’) and the impact of surrealism in Estonian painting and graphic art.

Elnara Taidre. Approaches to the Subject of Outer Space in Soviet Estonian Graphic Art
72−98; >Summary 99−102<

This paper stemmed from the exhibition held in the Cabinet of Prints and Drawings in the Kumu Art Museum, and aims to provide a context and conceptual basis to study works completed during 1957–1991 (from the launch of the first artificial satellite until Estonia regained its independence). The Space Age is one of the most significant phenomena of the 20th century, and found notable expression in culture and everyday life, both in the Western world and in the Soviet Union. However, the subject of outer space in Soviet Estonian art is connected with other problems: Estonia’s forced inclusion in the USSR, the possibilities for contributions and critiques in such a situation, strategies of resistance etc.

Tõnis Tatar. The Poetics of the Olav Maran Still-life
103−117; >Summary 118−121<

This article expands upon the subject of the traditional still-life painting of Olav Maran, analyzing the artistic model and the inherent aesthetic and moral qualities. An attempt is made to decipher the painter’s philosophical message and point to the methods used to express it. Also, the general characteristics of the genre of still-life painting are described and parallels are drawn between the still-life of Olav Maran and its historical predecessors in world art, especially Spanish 17th century painting and the work of Jean-Siméon Chardin.

Epp Lankots. Narrativity in Contemporary Architectural Historiography: Some possibilities for reading Leo Gens’ texts
122−139; >Summary 140−144<

This article studies new possibilities for reading canonical texts of 20th century architecture, focusing on the question, how textual strategies are used to construct historical knowledge. Taking critical historiography as a frame, Leo Gens’ texts are read in comparison with Western classics. Gens’ undefined causality and fragmented narrative show how the local conception of modern architecture in Estonia was not historically as ‘thick’ during the Soviet era as in Western teleological histories of architecture.

Jüri Hain. Villem Raam – the Keeper of Continuity of Art Culture
145−159; >Summary 160−162<

The article discusses Villem Raam’s (1910–1996) activities as the author of writings on modern Estonian art in 1957–1986. The author examines Raam’s remarkable contribution to the continuity of Estonian art culture and his emphasis on national identity during a time when such activity meant resistance to the oppression of a totalitarian regime. He did this, primarily, by analysing the works of the artists of his own generation (Lepo Mikko, Valdemar Väli, Olga Terri and others).

Merle Tank. An Insight into Estonian Art Writing 1917–1928: From Hanno Kompus to the Group of Estonian Artists
163−176; >Summary 177−180<

The article examines the interpretation of art and the existence and usage of certain terms and ideas in local art writing from 1917 to 1928, in connection with the work produced by the Group of Estonian Artists. Despite different publication dates, all the texts read for this article share quite similar ideas. It can be said that, in formulating the principles of their new art, the members of the Group largely relied on earlier principles, affording the terms that fitted the context of modernism with new and different meanings.

Liia Rebane. Gold und Braun, Gold und Purpur. Über die neuzeitliche Einbandkunst anhand eines Einbandes von Kaspar Meuser
181−206; >Zusammenfassung 207−211<

Bookbindings made by Jakob Krause and Kaspar Meuser are among the most exquisite achievements in the Renaissance art of bookbinding. The present article examines questions related to a book from early modern times attributed to Kaspar Meuser and housed at the Finnish National Library, and adds to the earlier studies of ‘Krause-Meuser bindings’ and Renaissance bindings. The article discusses the rarity of the book in terms of its publication and binding. The workshop and the master who made the binding were determined using a comparative method, and historical context was added. Due to the relations between different courts, political situations and wars, especially WWII, books that once belonged to the same collection were scattered among memory institutions of different countries. Therefore, it is not known today how many bindings that originally belonged to the Krause-Meuser collection have survived, and there is no reliable information about their locations and conditions.

Andreas Ventsel. Hegemonic Process of Signification in Photographs
212−229; >Summary 230−234<

The present paper tackles questions that can be briefly formulated as follows: 1) how to visualise power?, and 2) does semiotics have anything to offer to researchers on the visualisation processes of power? One of the means by which power relations are established and reproduced in societies is through photographs. In the theoretical part of the paper, I will attempt to integrate the starting points of visual rhetoric and Roland Barthes’s ideas, the theory of hegemony by Ernesto Laclau and the semiotics of the culture approach of the Tartu-Moscow school, especially that of Yuri Lotman.


Walter Benjamin. Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit.
Translated by Mati Sirkel


CHRONICLE 1.01.–31. 12.2009