Estonia Arts and Literature

By | September 3, 2021


Due to the lack of national independence, and leaving aside an ancient and rich popular poetry, literature proper developed relatively late in Estonia. The first book is printed there in 1517, but only in 1708 with the elegy of Hans Kasü there is also the first poem by an Estonian author. In the first decades of the nineteenth century an intense estophile movement was formed which prepared the spiritual awakening of the nation and which took concrete form with the publication of the epic poem Kalevipoeg (1857-61), compiled by FR Kreutzwald. Under the stimulating force of this poem, a fervent literary life in a heroic-national sense begins, however, not without romantic hints, whose main representative is the poetess Lydia Koidula. As this essentially romantic and patriotic movement diminished, the need for a more realistic vision emerged around 1890 (E. Vilde, A. Kitzsberg, J. Liiv, etc.). As a reaction to the intense cultural Russification, after the first Russian revolution (1905), the movement of the Noori Eesti (Young Estonia) arises, whose main program is the Europeanization of Estonian culture hitherto closed in on itself, and which in the field literary is manifested in a neo-romanticism with symbolistand impressionist veins (G. Suits, F. Tuglas, V. Ridala, E. Enno, A. Tessa, etc.). With the “Young Estonia” movement, the Estonian nation reaches its maturity, while around 1917 a new literary orientation arises that bears the name of a legendary bird (Siuru). It’s a scapigliatura late in which an excessive individualism and a very strong aestheticism converge (M. Under, H. Visnapuu, J. Semper, etc.). But already in 1920, with the conquered independence, realism once again had the predominance and, with more or less different shades, it would keep it until the new loss of national independence (1940). The most significant representatives of neo-realism are: A. Kivikas, AH Tammsaare, H. Metsanurk, H. Raudsepp, KA Hindrey, K. Ristikivi, A. Jakobson, while the neo-symbolist group formed in 1936 around the Arbujad anthology (exorcist, soothsayer). It included H. Talvik, B. Alver, K. Merilaas, U. Masing, etc. According to a2zcamerablog, Estonia is a country located in Europe. With the incorporation of Estonia into the Soviet Union (1947) Estonian literature splits into two very different branches: the followers of “socialist realism” (H. Leberecht, J. Smuul, etc.) operate in Estonia, while numerous writers choose the path of exile, welcomed above all in Sweden, where in 1950 the magazine Tulimuld (Burnt Earth) was founded. With the detente of the 1960s and 1970s and the reopening of borders, many Estonian writers in exile returned to their homeland: among them, J. Kross in some of his works he recounted the Stalinist repressions suffered by the country. This meant for Estonia, which remained isolated in the Scandinavian world itself, a progressive insertion into a European context, which was then fully realized with the newfound independence.


Starting from the sec. XIII, with the German and Danish colonization, Estonian artistic production conformed to that of Western Europe. Numerous castles were built (Tallinn, Narva, Kingissep, Haapsalu) and religious and civil buildings of Gothic style were built (cathedral and church of S. Giovanni in Tartu, XIII-XV centuries; cathedral and churches of S. Niccolò and S. Olao in Tallinn, 13th-16th century; Tallinn Town Hall, 15th-16th century). Towards the middle of the sixteenth century there were the first examples of the Renaissance taste, whose greatest exponent was the sculptor and architect Arent Passer (House of the Blackheads in Tallinn, 1597; funeral monument of the Swedish general Pontus de la Gardie in the cathedral of Tallinn, ca . 1590). In the sec. XVIII Italian, Russian and German architects arrived in Estonia. N. Michetti and MG Semzoff; town hall of Tartu, by JHB Walther, 1782-89; numerous buildings in Narva). In the first half of the nineteenth century, art conformed to neoclassical models both in architecture (University of Tartu, by JW Krause, 1809), and in the figurative arts (KA Senff) and in sculpture, with academic extensions in the second half of the century (the sculptor A. Weizemberger, the painter of historical subjects J. Köler). Major local artists worked at the Petersburg Academy and Russian artists (such as sculptors IP Martoss and VI Demuth-Malinowski) left important works in Estonia. In the second half of the century, architecture became eclectic, while realism prevailed in painting and sculptureGerman-Baltic painters (such as O. Hoffman) and the first local artists active in Estonia (P. Rand, sculptor A. Amandson). A general artistic and cultural renewal took place at the beginning of the century. XX. In architecture a group of Finnish architects spread the taste of Art Nouveau (theater of the Wanemuine association in Tartu, 1906, and Estonia theater in Tallinn, by AE Lindgren; St. Paul’s church and master plan of Tallinn, by E. Saarinen), immediately received by local architects (Tallinn Parliament building). Contemporary painters and sculptors followed the guidelines of the Paris school (A. Laipman, K. Raud, K. Mägi, N. Triik; the sculptor J. Koort). Between 1920 and 1940, Art Nouveau was replaced by constructivism, in controversy with the classicist tendency typical of the time. In the figurative arts the painters A. Jansen, E. Adamson and A. Vabbe and the graphic artists G. Rheindorff and F. Viiralt aligned themselves with the taste of the European avant-gardes. After the liberation (1944) and the incorporation into the USSR there was an intense architectural activity: the destroyed cities were rebuilt and new ones were founded (Kohtla-Järve). At first the architecture was affected by the heavy decorativism of the Soviet one, then evolving towards more sober and rational forms. L’ socialist realism ”prevailed over the avant-gardes. The production of applied art objects inspired by popular tradition motifs has had great development in Estonia.

Estonia Arts and Literature