Journalism as art, print as prose

  • 2005-10-05
  • By Liivi Sandy
TALLINN - There's a lot to be said, and read, for the "The Newspaper in Estonian Art," an exhibit currently touring the country. Documenting how newspapers have changed over the past decades, the exhibit displays about 100 paintings, prints and editorial caricatures.
"It's a surprise, even for me," says curator Aavo Kokk of the large number.

The exhibit's oldest piece is from the 1920s, and the latest is only a few weeks old. There are a number of editorial cartoons, and works capturing the ever-changing role of print journalism.

The exhibition captures its object, the newspaper, in a myriad of settings from the '30s to '70s. Images of people sitting on a bench reading or scanning the paper over dinner are just some examples.

Eduard Ole's painting, "Luxemburgi Aias," 1927, is one of several from the exhibit's state collection. The work of art is a fine example of the era it represents. Ole was interested in the general composition of figures and would characteristically separate men from women in his paintings. In "Luxemburgi Aias," the men stand about reading the press while the women sit knitting, surrounded by children.

In another painting, artist Agur Kruusing uses an old folktale as his subject matter. An old woman's face, covered abstractly in news pages, makes us question the media's purpose in society. In this case, the newspaper serves a most practical need - clothing.

A Leonhar Lapin piece, painted in 1980, represents the style of pop art with the phrase "Rahva Haal" (the people's voice) written across the canvas. During the Soviet era, the piece served as a symbolic reference to the freedom of speech.

The exhibit's more modern side is dedicated to artists that use actual newspapers as their canvas.

With over 50 people involved in the exhibition, almost all details have been considered. Among the Estonian newspapers depicted are the Paevaleht, Postimees and Noorteleht dailies.

Whether the connection is direct or indirect, each piece has some tie to print journalism. Works from the Art Museum of Estonia, the Parnu Museum, a methodological collection of the Estonian Academy of Arts, and the Tartu Art Museum were generously offered to the exhibit, which also includes private collections. Over the next three months, the exhibition will travel to the Vaal Gallery, Parnu Gallery, Viljandi City Gallery, Tartu Art House, Rakvere Theatre, and Adamson-Eric Museum.

This surprisingly simple idea has inspired other artists to create similar exhibits, Kokk says. The art allows us to look at newspapers from a different angle.

The Newspaper in Estonian Art

Oct. 8-Nov. 13

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