IDEALISM OF THE CULTURAL SPACE OF THE 1970s. Addenda to Estonian art history.
by Sirje Helme, Andres Kurg, Vilen Künnapu, Eha Komissarov, Karin Paulus, Anders Härm, Berk Vaher
Print date: 2002-10-23
Institution: CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS - Estonia
Editor(s): Sirje Helme
The idea of the Center for Contemporary Art Estonia to organise lecture days about the recent history of Estonian art is quite new. The undertaking hopes to add something to the complicated and ambivalent construction of art history, examine both past and present from different angles, find new layers. Another aim is to motivate the researchers to deal with local processes of culture which can be analysed and interpreted in various ways; open up historical, linguistic and sociological backgrounds, each time displaying a new, so far neglected aspect. Considering the fact that art history is a continuous process, it can never be the same to different generations. Every lecture day will be followed by the a relevant publication.
Most Central and East European countries are currently reviewing their historical material. At the lecture day titled „IDEALISM OF THE CULTURAL SPACE OF THE 1970s“ on 23 April 2002 Estonia focused on the 1970s as a dense and innovative decade where various ideas of young radicals who apperaed in art in the late 1960s were realised. Two topics were of special significance: relations with official ideology of the time and, on the other hand, relations with Western art. A collection based on the presented papers with English summaries has been published
Sirje Helme. THE TIMES OF ARTFORUM
Andres Kurg. JÜRI OKAS’S “SPECIFIC OBJECTS”
Vilen Künnapu. ARCHITECTURAL IDEOLOGY OF THE 1970s
Eha Komissarov. PAINTING OF THE SEVENTIES
Karin Paulus. HOTCHPOTCH AND SYMBIOSIS IN THE EVERYDAY LIFE OF THE 1970s
Anders Härm. CHUNGA´S REVENGE. An instructive story of how pop culture swallowed up the avant-garde in the 1970s
Berk Vaher. THE 1970s IN LITERATURE – GLIMPSES INTO THE DECADE THAT JUST ENDED
Contact CCA-Estonia: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE TIMES OF ARTFORUM
by Sirje Helme
The title should be first of all taken as a metaphor, signifying – in connection with the emergence of a new urban type of culture – the developments in Estonian art that are analogous with the minimalism in the USA.
In a situation where the systems are politically hugely different as are the cultural traditions, we cannot present pure-style conceptualism or minimalism from Estonia. We can nevertheless find enough parallels both in art ideology and aesthetical attitudes.
“Artforum” as a magazine was unavailable to wider masses of artists in Estonia since the Soviet authorities did not deem it worthy of distribution. A few artists, mostly a group of young designers and architects who formed the nucleus of innovative art of the late 1960s – early 1970s nevertheless managed to get hold of it.
The change of paradigm at the time is usually associated with a wave of pop art, but we can just as easily tackle new ideas and attitudes from the point of view of minimalist ideology. Minimalist art in Estonia cannot be limited to object art and urban sculpture, because such huge material ideas could not be realised in the conditions of the Soviet Union. The more material is luckily provided by sketches of various ideas, projects, paintings and drawings. Another typically Estonian feature is that to justify the local so-called geometric art (general term for non-figurative art that is based on geometrical images), historical parallels were called for, especially the functionalism of the 1930s and the work of the post-cubist “Estonian Artists’ Group” founded in 1924. Under the cover of stressing the historical side, new ideas could be propagated. The discourse of Estonian avant-garde contains many such peculiarities, and that is why we always have to stress the overwhelming importance of context in our recent art history.
Estonian art quickly accepted some general postulates of minimalism like neutrality, aestheticism, attitudes of the “elegant refusal” of urban culture. Not all the peculiarities of our art and its fondness of design-like rationality can naturally be explained with the influence of American minimalism. However, the clearly manifested distance and hierarchy-free relations towards what is depicted, neutral observation and documenting, certainly date from that time.
Received on 2002-11-28 from Sirje Helme -