4th floor, B-wing
In 1966, Tallinn and Tartu saw several exhibitions where the works revealed new ideas and strategies for the art of that era: a spring exhibition by Tartu artists, the exhibition “Painting. Graphic Art. Photography” in the lobby of the Academy of Sciences library, a young artists’ exhibition in the Tallinn Art Hall, Ilmar Malin’s exhibition in the Art Salon, and an Elmar Kits exhibition at the Tartu Artists’ House. Although a number of the new directions diverged from the official Soviet art canon, leading to a lively polemic, the authorities thought it best not to directly impede the experiments and searches by the young artists. The combined effect of these exhibitions was a shifting of the boundary between what was permitted and prohibited in the art of the period, and a broader range of the kind of art that could be considered realist. The exhibitions also signalled hope that, even in Soviet society, it was possible to bend the boundaries imposed on art; as a result of that hope, an underground art scene did not develop in Estonia in the manner that it did in, say, Moscow.
“Art Revolution 1966” focuses on how the younger generation of Estonian artists in the 1960s saw the world and their interest in new, more multi-layered ways of depicting people, which were frequently rooted in surrealist methods and verged on abstract art: here we see geometric and nature-derived forms, micro- and macro-worlds that were different from everyday reality, and references to mysterious dimensions of human nature and activity. All these trends reflected, in one way or another, their natal environment and ways of adapting to it: they were a reaction to an over-rationalized society’s requirement that everything have a single meaning, as well as to the suppression of the subjective in favour of the collective; they sought out ways of understanding life different than the ones dictated by official ideology, yet also veered away from the traumatic life sensibility of the post-war years and embodied a yearning for modernity and the outside world.
The exhibition presents the same works that were on display in 1966, alongside slightly earlier and later works by the same artists, including ones that were not approved for public display back then. The objective is to shift the focus from glorified late 1960s art to a somewhat earlier period that reveals the hybrid nature of the art, and the circulation of ideas in different incarnations and motifs involving different content. Among lesser-known material, special mention should be made of the fact that works of the Stodom group of photographic artists are now interwoven into Estonian art history. Inevitably, “Art Revolution 1966” is a subjective view of the events of 1966: the earlier exhibitions have not been reconstructed but rather interpreted based on the interests and experiences of the present-day viewer and art historiography.
Artists: Jüri Arrak, Tatjana Dobrovolskaja, Andrei Dobrovolski, Kristiina Kaasik, Elmar Kits, Raivo Korstnik, Tõnis Laanemaa, Malle Leis, Ilmar Malin, Olav Maran, Boris Mäemets, Enno Ootsing, Tiiu Pallo-Vaik, Jüri Palm, Enn Põldroos, Kaljo Põllu, Henn Roode, Evi Tihemets, Peeter Tooming, Aili Vint, Tõnis Vint
With the support of the Estonian Cultural Endowment
Exhibition curator: Anu Allas
Exhibition designer: Kaido Ole
Graphic designer: Külli Kaats
Margus Kiis, Jüri Hain, Kadri Jõgeva, Jaan Malin, Simmo Põllu, Eva Vint
Tartu Art Museum
Photo Museum of the Tallinn City Museum
Tel +372 5340 3356
Kumu Art Museum
Weizenbergi 24 / Valge 1
Jüri Arrak. Lava. 1966. Courtesy of the artist