NameCanwell, Jeremy (author), Sharp, Jane A. (chair), Zervigon, Andres Mario (internal member), Yanni, Carla (internal member), Botar, Oliver (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Art, Estonian--19th century,
Art, Estonian--20th century
DescriptionDuring the Estonian National Awakening, the nineteenth-century period of cultural self-awareness, artists in this eastern European country, subsequently a republic of the USSR, creatively adapted stylistic models originating elsewhere in Europe. After World War II, artists turned to the United States for inspiration. This interpretive modernism, which was suppressed under Stalinism, remained integral to Estonian national identity, and resurged in the late-1950s reformist period known as the “thaw.” In the ensuing cultural renaissance of the 1960s, artists recovered the pre-war modernist past while reopening lifelines to contemporary art abroad. Until cultural retrenchment in the 1970s, artists used unofficial exhibitions to provoke audiences comprising cultural officials, the scientific and creative intelligentsia, and the general public. This artistic activity must be analyzed in the context of its heritage: a national movement begun in the nineteenth century, and at whose height artists like Paul Raud and Nikolai Triik equated Estonian self-realization with cultural modernity sustained by adaptive processes. Nonetheless, histories of Estonian art appearing after independence in 1991 have scuttled this salient quality in favor of Western modernist paradigms, a cornerstone of which is originality. This dissertation examines pre-war Estonian art, the totalitarian forms that supplanted those aesthetic modes, and the return of Estonian modernism at unofficial exhibitions staged by Leonhard Lapin, Raul Meel, and other artists in the final decades of Soviet rule. Concepts drawn from Jüri Lotman’s semiotic theory of culture support the proposed, alternative history of Estonian art, as well as critical reassessment of Cold-War modernist theory that has obscured that history.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Jeremy Canwell
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.