FOREIGN ART AS REFLECTED IN THE LATVIAN ART HISTORY IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY (Arzemju makslas dzive latviesu makslas zinatnes skatijuma 20. gs. sakuma)
The early 20th century was a period that witnessed increase in self-understanding of the national culture, and this encouraged Latvian art specialists to begin writing about foreign art. The authors of these publications came from a variety of professions, and most of them also were critics of Latvian art. Among them there were the artists Janis Rozentals, Janis Valters, Gustavs Skilters, Julijs Mademieks and others, the writer-artists Janis Jaunsudrabins and Viktors Eglitis, the authors Janis Akuraters, Pavils Gruzna, Janis Poruks and others, literary critic Teodors Zeiferts, and men from other professions, too - Janis Asars, Olgerds Grosvalds, Mikelis Valters and Emests Purins, for example. Latvia's art history was in its infancy, and the country's artistic scene had no real history, no direct heritage or developed professionalism. Materials about foreign art were published in many periodicals, including 'Majas Viesa Menesraksts', 'Latvija', 'Druva', 'Domas', 'Verotajs', 'Zalktis', and others. Information could be obtained from imported literature and from exhibitions of foreign art in Latvia and in neighboring countries; some authors traveled abroad to see exhibitions. The interest of Latvians in foreign art covered a fairly broad territory (all of the major European countries, as well as some countries in Asia. Particular attention, however, was focused on the art of France, Germany, Russia and the Scandinavian countries. Latvians wrote about all kinds of phenomena in foreign art, but two topics dominated - distinguished foreign artists and various stylistic phenomena and movements in foreign art. The theoretical sources from which the authors drew information were usually the same as were used by the most prominent European authors of the day. As art criticism developed in the early 20th century, Latvians engaged in their first efforts to analyze the various aspects of foreign art. Their interest was primarily Eurocentric in nature. Some authors dealt with theoretical issues. Voldemars Matvejs must particularly be mentioned in this context.
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