THE ART DECO STYLE AND LATVIAN ART (Art Deco stils un latviesu maksla)
For a movement which was as enormously popular throughout the world as it was, Art Deco has been analyzed quite little in Latvian art theory so far. The orientation of inter-war art in Latvia toward national self-affirmation has often created the erroneous impression that Latvia was isolated from the fashions of the rest of the world. Quite the contrary: the trends of the times reached Latvia, too. The work of artists at the Baltars porcelain workshop, for example, represented some of the best work that was done in the applied art in inter-war Latvia. Romans Suta and Aleksandra Belcova produced decorative compositions in which Cubism was transformed toward ornamental decoration. The works are dynamic, rhythmical and simple in form. Sigismunds Vidbergs produced paintings on porcelain that are distinguished by the lightness and delicacy that were typical of Art Deco graphics. If we look at the work that was done by graduates of the Ceramics Department of the Latvian Academy of Art, we see clearly that the fashions of the world influenced much of their work. Art Deco stylistics never became popular in metal art in Latvia, but one of the most distinguished masters of Art Deco was the metals artist Stefans Bercs, who by himself created a whole gallery of Art Deco images. A highly developed graphic culture was evidenced in posters that were produced in Latvia at that time. Working alongside artists who are well-known even today, there were many graphic artists who have unjustifiably been forgotten. Specific Art Deco elements (a rapid linear perspective, exaggerated sizes, simplification of geometric forms, color contrasts) were used by Vidbergs, Raimonds Sisko, Alfreds Svedrevics and others. The brightest star in Art Deco theatrical design was the painter Ludolfs Liberts. He produced set decorations and costume designs that were ornamental and rich in color, and these works are among the best of the master's oeuvre. Graphic art in the Art Deco style is delicate, elegant and sweetly passionate. Vidbergs produced masterly erotic illustrations that in many cases are more elaborate in form than the work of recognized masters in this genre.
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