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Classics of the Modernist Era. Jaan Koort

Classics of the Modernist Era. Jaan Koort

Time: 25.01.13–28.04.13  11:00–18:00
Location: Kumu exhibition spaces

3rd floor, B-wing

As of Friday 25 January, an exhibition of works by Jaan Koort, one of the classics of the first generation of Estonian Modernists, will be open at the Kumu Art Museum. The exposition of works by Koort, who focused on figures and portraits, includes paintings, sculptures, ceramics and a rich assortment of drawings. A newspaper has been published to introduce the exhibition, which will also be accompanied by ceramics classes, an educational programme for students and a special programme for visually impaired people.

“The exhibition provides a glimpse of one of Estonia’s greatest artists, who created something very important in our culture at a time and under circumstances when our national intelligentsia was in its formative stage,” said Juta Kivimäe, the curator of the exhibition. “Jaan Koort’s oeuvre, which during the epochal changes of the recent past have ended up in various collections, deserves to be assembled from time to time into a larger exhibition. The extraordinarily beautiful works, with their high culture of form, are easily comprehended and enjoyed by the broader public.”

The exhibition assembles Jaan Koort’s (1883–1935) works from his various creative periods, including nationally renowned masterpieces, such as the cast-bronze Roe Deer (1929), National Romantic-style portraits in wood and granite, several portraits of his wife and children, and other successful motifs that are repeated in various materials. Also included in the exhibition are Koort’s scenes of Parisian slums and his Cézanne-like still lifes, which are an inseparable part of early Estonian Modernism.

Jaan Koort had a mastery of various materials. He introduced difficult-to-work basalt and granite into Estonian sculpture, but also created sculptures from sandstone, marble and various types of wood. “His solutions of form and workmanship are close to ideal,” Juta Kivimäe added. “One can say that Koort became an artist in Paris, residing there for ten years – longer than any other Estonian artist.”

As a multi-talented and broad-spirited personality, he participated enthusiastically in Estonia’s art life and published articles on art and art policies in the press. However, in our national art history, he is known primarily as an outstanding sculptor, whose work created a breakthrough in the Estonian academic sculpture of the day.

From 1902 to 1905, his studies took the farm boy, who was born in the village of Pupastvere in Tartu County, to the Stieglitz Academy of Art and Industry in St. Petersburg. His studies were interrupted by participation in revolutionary events, which were followed by ten years of development in the Parisian art world (1905–1915). In 1908, Koort exhibited his works at the renowned Salon de Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts and Salon d’Automne. In the 1920s he was invited to be a permanent member of both galleries. He also showed his work at the Salon des Indépendants, at Russian artists’ exhibitions and at the first exhibitions of Estonian art in his homeland.

In Paris, the artist developed contacts with Russian artists and intellectuals, which made it possible for him to participate in the Moscow art scene in 1915 and 1916, and to become an artist at the Gzhel Ceramic Factory in 1934. During his lifetime, Jaan Koort’s works were acquired by the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, the collector I. Morozov, the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum in Moscow, the Riga Art Museum, the Ateneum in Helsinki, the Musée du Luxembourg etc.

The Kumu Art Museum thanks the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Tartu Art Museum, Estonian Museum of Design and Applied Art, Estonian Literary Museum, Jaan Koort’s descendants and everyone who agreed to contribute works by Jaan Koort in their collections to the exhibition.

The exhibition was designed by Villu Plink.

Classics of the Modernist Era. Jaan Koort will be open at the Kumu Art Museum until 28 April 2013.