For the first time works by world recognized Latvian artist Gustavs Klucis are on view at KUMU Art Museum of Estonia in Tallinn, on the exhibition Gustav Klucis: Russian Avant-Garde Art in the 1920s–1930s.
Thanks to gift by artist’s widow Valentina Kulagina (Валентина Кулагина, 1902–1987), the most numerous and comprehensive collection of works by Gustavs Klucis (1895–1938) is posessed by the Latvian National Museum of Art. During past decades it has been exhibited in USA, France, Italy, Russia, Great Britain, Netherlands, Germany, Spain and keeps rising interest by audiences and scholars around the globe.
Now for the first time works by Gustavs Klucis are shown at KUMU Art Museum, on the exhibition Gustav Klucis: Russian Avant-Garde Art in the 1920s–1930s. Audiences will be faced to unique experience since in Estonia no one artist can be related to the same historical context. It is important to remind that Gustav Klucis belongs to generation of artists whoes destinies were determinated by the First World War. Those who after attending art schools in Russia and fighting in riflemen units returned home, we recognize nowadays as creators of the Latvian Classical Modernism. Gustavs Klucis after the Bolshevik coup (October Revolution) of 1917 decided to stay in Soviet Russia, therefore he is recognized internationally as one of the leading artists of the Russian Avant-garde, co-creator of Constructivism and a pioneer of the photomontage.
Gustavs Klucis himself referred to his work as "laboratory" research, during which he attempted to solve specific tasks. Formal problems (texture, space, colour, dynamics, etc.), which engaged master’s attention in early 1920s, evolved into a task to convey convincingly the idea of the artwork to viewer. Moreover, Gustav Klucis saw modern technology (photography, cinema, radio) as having the potential for synthesizing new art forms and tearing down the barriers between visual art, design, and architecture.
Choosing the experimental aspect of Gustavs Klucis’ work as a leitmotif, his first ever exhibition in Estonia sheds light on the artist’s creative progression, working methods, theoretical views, and the most significant fields of artistic endeavour. On focus are qualities of artist’s works that have survived the test of time and evidently places him among the most outstanding artistic figures of the 20th century, although his political engagement with totalitarian regime remains an issue of controversy.
The journey along with about 150 exhibited artworks allows us to read the contradictions and conflicts of the era experienced by Gustav Klucis. From other hand, in almost 20 years of creative life Gustavs Klucis spent in Moscow, his art went through the full cycle of manipulation by the totalitarian state: from illusory creative freedom to involvement in the building of the new state and official recognition, followed by censor-dictated praise to the totalitarian regime and, finally, the state’s clampdown on the Avant-garde and artist’s own tragic fate, felling victim of the Stalin’s Great Terror along with thousands of other Latvians living in Russia at the time.
On show are also one poster from the Mūkusala Art Salon Collection in Riga, as well as unique documentary photos from the State Vladimir Mayakovsky Museum in Moscow (Russia) and the Greek State Museum of Contemporary Art / Costakis Collection in Thessaloniki. The curator of the exhibition is Iveta Derkusova, Deputy Director for Collections of the Latvian National Museum of Art.
Gustav Klucis: Russian Avant-Garde Art in the 1920s–1930s exhibition will be on display at KUMU Art Museum in Tallinn until 25 August 2019.