Noor-Eesti ja kunstnikud. Young Estonia’s Artists


  • Tiiu Talvistu



In Estonian art history, the beginning of the 20th century is the era of the birth of nationalist art. This is the time when the first artists to study abroad, the brothers Paul and Kristjan Raud, and Ants Laikmaa return home from their studies in Düsseldorf and Munich. In the homeland, these artists’ cultural and political spirit brought them into contact with the Young Estonians, one generation younger than they were, whose overall world-view and artistic views they came to shape. The program of the Young Estonians included the furthering of cultural life as a whole; therefore they participated enthusiastically in discussions about the visual arts, and ways in which to advance art in the homeland. Through the mediation of Ants Laikmaa, they made contact with Nikolai Triik, an artist of their own generation, who in turn engaged his former fellow students from the Stieglitz School of Applied Arts in St. Petersburg – Aleksander Tassa, Jaan Koort, and Konrad Mägi. The interests and travel destinations of writers and artists were similar: they found themselves drawn primarily to Scandinavia, then Paris. Young Estonia’s almanacs and magazines were illustrated and adorned by reproductions of these same artists’ works, and artists contributed their writings on art to the publication. Nikolai Triik was artistic editor for the Young Estonia magazine, thanks to his stronger ties with the homeland and his greater authority. In the years 1909 and 1914 Young Estonia organized art exhibits, in which several artists studying abroad found their first reception among a homeland public. Young Estonia created a new standard in Estonian book design. Discussions began around the question of ”nationalism” in art. The Young Estonia period 1905–1915 was an era of great change in Estonian art, and the artists connected with the movement played a major role in subsequent developments. Together they established the art association ”Pallas” in 1918, and a year later opened a school by the same name in Tartu, which became the seedbed of Estonian national art for the following several decades.


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