Malmö Konstmuseum exhibits The Latvian Collection from December 2, 2022 to April 16, 2023.
Malmö Konstmuseum’s Latvian collection was donated to the museum in 1939 and remained on permanent exhibit until 1958. The collection includes landscape paintings, portraits, still life, mythology, drawings, set designs, and military imagery from the 1930s and earlier.
The collection was meant to be representative of Latvian contemporary art at the time. The selection of 50 artworks illustrates a general movement in the zeitgeist towards pondering and creating ideas about what Latvia is through art since Latvia’s independence in 1918. The collection symbolizes an introspective view as well as National Romantic notions glorifying Latvian soil and culture, and is marked by the authoritarian dictatorship of Prime Minister Krlis Ulmanis, who came to power following a coup in 1934, and the country’s subsequent cultural policies.
The Latvian Collection exhibits the whole collection for the first time since the 1950s, along with eight new commissions by artists inspired by the collection and its history. The exhibition emphasizes underappreciated narratives within the collection and considers innovative approaches to seeing the historic collection as a snapshot in time.
The show explores bigger concerns of nationalism and nation state construction in the Baltic region, while also noting the fragility of smaller nation states and their ability to function as antidotes against imperialism. The invited artists began by looking at the collection and exploring ways of thinking outside nation states. Dreaming about new methods of organizing something as fundamental as nation states is difficult, and Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, has made it nearly impossible.
The newly commissioned pieces will become part of Malmö Konstmuseum’s permanent art collection, developing as extensions and interpretations of the existing Latvian collection and offering future curators, artists, and visitors with windows into how the collection was regarded in 2022. This will move the collection-building process forward in time, beyond the bounds of the Latvian nation state.
Makda Embaie, Ieva Epnere, Santiago Mostyn & Susanna Jablonski, Ieva Kraule-Kūna, Lada Nakonechna, Jaanus Samma, Anastasia Sosunova, Asbjørn Skou
Artists in the original Latvian collection
Jānis Aižēns, Augusts Annuss, Arturs Apinis, Jēkabs Apinis, Kārlis Baltgailis, Jānis Cielavs, Jānis Cīrulis, Elza Druja, Erna Dzelme-Bērziņa, Eduards Dzenis, Otomija Freiberga, Jāzeps Grosvalds, Arvīds Gusārs, Eduards Kalniņš, Kārlis Krauze, Valdemārs Krastiņš, Jānis Kuga, Ludolfs Liberts, Milda Liepiņa, Jānis Liepiņš, Jūlijs Madernieks, Marija Induse-Muceniece, Oskars Norītis, Jānis Plēpis, Janis Rozentāls, Pēteris Rožlapa, Ārijs Skride, Oto Skulme, Uga Skulme, Jānis Šternbergs, Arvīds Štrauss, Niklāvs Strunke, Erasts Šveics, Leo Svemps, Zelma Tālberga, Jānis Tīdemanis, Valdemārs Tone, Konrāds Ubāns, Johann Walter, Vilis Vasariņš, Ernests Veilands, Sigismunds Vidbergs, Vilhelms Purvītis, Kārlis Zāle, Teodors Zaļkalns, Rihards Zariņš
Curated by Inga Lāce and Lotte Løvholm
Exhibition architect: Līva Kreislere
Graphic design: Rūta Jumīte