Koort’s work on display at the Kumu Museum

  • 2013-02-20
  • By TBT Staff

CAST IN BRONZE: Koort’s masterpieces include works in various materials.

TALLINN - On Jan. 25, an exhibition of works by Jaan Koort, one of the classics of the first generation of Estonian Modernists, was opened at the Kumu Art Museum. The exposition of works by Koort, focuses 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 program for students and a special program 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 Kivimae, the curator of the exhibition. “Jaan Koort’s oeuvre, which during the epochal changes of the recent past has 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 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 Cezanne-like still lives, which are an inseparable part of early Estonian Modernism.

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 Kivimae 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 Societe 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 Independants, 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 Musee du Luxembourg etc.

The exhibition will be held through April 24. Museum’s opening hours in October–April:
Wed:  11 a.m. – 8 p.m.,
Thu–Sun:  11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
For additional information please visit www.kumu.ee