THE IMAGE OF THE CITY/TOWN IN LATVIAN PAINTING OF THE 1920S AND 1930S (Pilsetas tels 20. gs. 20. - 30. gadu latviesu gleznieciba)
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Country landscape has always been more popular in Latvian painting in comparison with townscape/cityscape. This was mostly conditioned by the dominant rural origins of most artists, also the great impact of Vilhelms Purvitis' painting. Later, in the 1930s, it was the official perspective of Latvia as agricultural country. Still the city increasingly entered the scope of painterly subjects, especially after World War I. Two different attitudes can be singled out in depictions of city/town - cityscape and genre. A city can be portrayed as a cityscape, showing architecture, lights, moods, and reducing figures to a sort of small additions. But one can focus on people and genre scenes happening against the city background. Still, the cityscape approach predominates in Latvian painting. Speaking about the image of the city, our only large city Riga comes to mind first, it is also most often depicted in paintings. But various smaller towns are also much painted, especially those where artists'groups had developed in the inter-war period, like Rezekne, Tukums, Jelgava and others. Still almost all attempts to depict what we conceive of as urban imagery, urban lifestyle and feel are related to Riga. If Riga's image in the previous centuries is usually associated with the impressive panoramic view towards the Daugava River and Old Riga church spires, in the 1st half of the 20th century artists search for different points of view, leaving the city centre and most impressive buildings for souvenir makers. The inter-war painting demonstrates fresh, previously unseen artistic capacity of Riga. Most artists choose Riga suburbs as the painterly most interesting and emotionally moving motif.
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