Art of poster in Latvia. 1920 – 1990.


Within the framework of: Meeting Europe – Latvia

Imars BLUMBERGS J.Svarcs Dragon, 1985

Curator : Inese Baranovska

This exhibition offers French viewers the possibility of discovering Latvia, its past and culture, from a historical perspective and art of poster. The poster, a manifestation of “democratic” art par excellence, was born in the social turmoil of the twentieth century. The poster has always been intimately connected, more than any other art form , to political and economic reality. It has consistently been a space of creation and expression for artists, there by constituting a mirror of its particular era.
The purpose of this exhibition is to allow a discovery of the culture, traditions and history of Latvia by using the reflection of the world which has always been offered by the poster. The presentation consists of 120 original printed posters which have been drawn from the collections of the Latvian National Library (LNL) and the Museum of the Union of Latvian Artists (ULA).

Why were these two collections brought together for the exhibition? The LNL maintains an unrivalled collection of printed posters compiled in a regular manner. It begins with the end of the nineteenth century and extends right up to our own times. The oldest piece dates from 1899. This collection of posters bears pictorial witness to political and social change in Latvia. It enriches our artistic vision considerably and pays tribute to the talent of less well-known artists. It also strives to analyze from a historical perspective the evolution of the art of the poster in a European context.

The history of the creation and elaboration of the collection of the museum of the ULA, with its three hundred original posters, is completely different with respect to their provenance. The museum of the ULA was created in 2001 on the basis of the collection of artworks possessed by the Union of Latvian Artists. The collection covers the period from 1945 to 1991. Historically, the strategy of the creation of a collection was defined by Communist ideology, being elaborated and dictated for all the artistic unions of the USSR. Communism “left art among the people”. In this context, a foundation responsible for the creation of the collection was setup in 1957. For more than thirty years, the congress of the Union of Artists pursued an active policy of acquiring artworks, all of which were commissioned by the power structure. In 1991, after the political upheavals, there was no longer a secure financial foundation for acquiring and maintaining these artworks. Since 2001 the museum of the ULA has begun to develop several programs for cultivating, studying and analyzing the Latvian art of the second half of the twentieth century. Today the museum possesses more than 15,000 artworks. This represents one of the largest collections in Latvia. One part of the collection of the museum of the ULA is included in the holdings of the national museums, a testimony to its national importance