A Brief History of Lithuanian Art

It is a regrettable fact that Lithuanian art has played a less important role in Europe than it should. This is perhaps due to its only beginning to come out of its pagan traditions into Middle-Age European culture during the 16th century. Ever diverse, even after protestant reformation, there were still strong Pagan, Orthodox, Jewish, Karait and Tatar elements. This everpresent diversity of culture has led to the tapestry of styles and cultures that makes up the world of Lithuanian art today.

Lithuania is better known for its strong folk art tradition, with the earliest forms of art to be translated for export being folk songs and poems.

Probably the most famous of Lithuanian Artists is Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis. For those of you wondering who this is, perhaps you now better understand the motivations of this project to further the acknowledgement of Eastern European Art in western culture, for the important part it has played in the development of European art.

Ciurlionis has the unusual features which appear to be typical of any Lithuanian Artist. He was a Synesthete, the melding of artistic mediums, that is, which led him to treat his paintings in much the same way as his pieces of music. Most of his work is arranged into series, much in the same way as music. He did a series of paintings which he even called sonatas, with different movements titled by musical convention.

Ciurlionis was very active as far as movements were concerned, making major contributions to the progression of Symbolism, Art Nouveau and furthering the Fin de Siècle approach.

Also active in the wider fields was Antanas Žmuidzinavicius, a Painter and Art Collector. In his capacity as Professor, he toured European Universities, giving lectures on Lithuanian Art. He worked with M.K. Ciurlionis to organise the First Exhibition of Lithuanian Art.

The Lithuanian to have the most influence in European Art today is Gintaras Karosas. He is the creator of Europas Parkas, one of the finest contemporary sculpture parks in the world. He has spent much of his life bringing together Eastern European Artists to share influences.

There are several contemporary artists who have contributed to the world of art in major ways, amongst them George Maciunas. Maciunas was a Founding member of the American Art movement Fluxus, along with John Cage and others. The movement valued simplicity over complexity, with strong tones of anti-art sensibility and anti-commercialism, moving the focus from commerce onto the artist.

However, perhaps the most influential Lithuanian Artist is Šarunas Sauka. His contributions to Postmodernism gave it the focus it needed. His own work focuses on the end of Christianity and its Metaphysics in a modern world, and the foolish nature of man revealed as this mask is torn away.

The world of Lithuanian Art is a market that still has potential for great expansion, and over the next few years, especially with the help of projects such as Baltic Art, it is likely that a lot of the talent will begin to emerge onto an international platform.