THE UNKNOWN SUTA. AN INSIGHT INTO THE WORK OF ROMANS SUTA IN APPLIED ART (Nezinamais Suta. Ieskats Romana Sutas darbiba dekorativi lietiskas makslas joma)
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Romans Suta (1896-1944) represents Latvian Classical Modernism and was active not only in fine art but also in applied art, in what these days we might call design. This article examines Suta's activities in the decorative and applied arts - vessel forms and paintings and various types of interior and graphic design. In the 1920s and 1930s, the fascination with design and aesthetic improvement of the surrounding environment was widespread in Europe and many artists also turned to the applied arts. In Latvia there was no education available in the field of design in the contemporary sense and artists who tried to widen their scope of activity and introduce up-to-date trends in applied arts were largely self-taught. Suta was influenced by the ideas of Le Corbusier and Amedee Ozenfant for a new, international art style. An example was on view in the pavilion of the Purists' magazine 'L'Esprit Nouveau' at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes from April to October 1925. It inspired Suta to create a national version of the constructive style, envisaging a unified, modern Latvian environment and bringing together Constructivism and forms of Latvian ethnographic architecture and ornament. The example of Russian propaganda porcelain with the aim of influencing people, inspired Suta to found the 'Baltars' Porcelain Painting Studio in 1924. From the mid-1920s on, Suta was employed as a visiting stage designer at various theatres throughout Latvia. Stage design provided good opportunities to express his talent and wish to impress wide audiences with this kind of work. Stage design and interior decoration was closely intertwined in Suta's art and it is often hard to tell the difference between sketches intended for the stage and those for a living environment.
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