2011 | 14 | 20-29
Article title

THE RAINIS MEMORIAL: THE HISTORY OF AN ARTWORK AND KARLIS ZEMDEGA'S STARDOM (Raina kapa piemineklis: Viena makslas darba vesture un Karla Zemdegas 'zvaigznu laiks')

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This article examines the poet Rainis' Memorial at the Rainis Cemetery in Riga (1934) created by sculptor Karlis Zemdega (1894-1963); this is the sculptor's masterpiece and stands apart in the history of Latvian memorial sculpture. The article aims to reveal the history of the monument's creation as well as analyse its artistic qualities. The Rainis Memorial Foundation (RMF) was a non-governmental organisation founded shortly after the poet's death on 8 December 1929; it planned to organise memorial events, promote Rainis' oeuvre and raise funds for a memorial. The RMF succeeded in raising enough money to announce the competition for the Rainis Memorial in 1931. The winning proposal was submitted by sculptor Teodors Zalkalns but, as the RMF regulations allowed deviation from the competition results, the sketch by architect Peteris Arends and sculptor Karlis Zemdega was preferred. After unsuccessful searches for stone material in Latvia, it was decided to carve the monument from a single block of Finnish granite. The practical realisation of the monument was supervised by the artist himself. The Rainis Memorial came into Zemdega's life shortly after his successful debut in the Freedom Monument competition in 1930 when the sculptor received third prize. This gave him a certain popularity and the chance to realise a version of his idea in Rauna (1935) as well as the opportunity to travel. At that time he met Ina Ziedina who was still a schoolgirl, fell in love and married her, and their first child – a son named Klavs – was born. One can conclude that the period of creative activity in the first half of the 1930s resulting in the composition of the Rainis Memorial was also the time of emotional uplift in Zemdega's personal life and fulfilment of many desires.
  • Laila Bremsa, Latvian Academy of Art, Kalpaka bulvaris 13, Riga LV-1867, Latvia
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