'Severe Style - Litmus Test for Art History' by Kädi Talvoja

On Tuesday, 8 April, art historian and curator Kädi Talvoja (Estonia) will give the lecture "Severe Style - Litmus Test for Art History". The lecture will start at 6 pm at the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art. The Centre is located at Alberta Street 13 (7th floor), Riga.

"Although Severe Style never developed into such a strong school in Estonian art, as it did in Russia or Latvia, also in Estonia in the late 1950s and early 1960s a noteworthy number of works were painted and printed, which characteristics belong to the Severe Style. Be it specific motifs: smoking breaks, fishermen or factory workers going to or coming from work, young builders at construction sites etc; be it compositional patterns: representing figures moving or standing in rows close to foreground of the picture etc; or emotional modality: severeness. Still the usage of the term Severe Style is very rare in Estonian art writings. And even if the label is used, it rather functions as an instrument of exclusion. For sure, the Severe Style is a transitional phenomenon: too Soviet to be accepted as part of “our” art history and at the same time being born at the time (at least seemingly) too liberal to be excused by oppressive totaliarian regime. As such the case of Severe Style seems to work quite well as a litmus test to analyse and question the evaluation criterias of art history writing," points out Kädi Talvoja. 

Kädi Talvoja (1974, Estonia) is art historian and curator. She is currently working on her PhD, focusing on the changes of art discourse in early Thaw era in Estonian Academy of Arts. She worked at Kumu Art museum in Tallinn (2002–2010), was a curator and programme manager of the Soviet period, and besides exhibitions has curated lectures and film programmes. Since 2002 she has also lectured about Estonian art of the Soviet period in Estonian Art Academy. From 2001 up to 2003 she made the art broadcasts Stations of Art for Klassikaraadio.

Illustration: Nikolai Kormashov. After the shift: youth brigade. 1961. Oil on canvas. 134 × 96. Tartu Art Museum 

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