The „Paths of Modern Art“ project, started by the Kaunas Modern Art Foundation (KMAF) is a short trip through the city of the 20th century, enriched by the creative moods of artists.
There is shortage of routes in Kaunas City. In preparation for the “Paths of Modern Art” trip we were thinking about the painters of the previous century, the paths they walked and the traces they left in the present-day city. Such painter route is different from the usual ones that can be started at some point and ended at another. The route consists not of ordinary art spots (museums, memorial homes), but from more or less known spots in the city that the locals would not usually associate with the arts. Therefore, now hearing some story about modernistic fine arts might reveal different new angles. The spots marked on this route are often symbolic, they mark much more than a path, a house or a nice lookout point, sometimes it can even be a long and special stage of an artist’s life and creative work.
In this trip we try to reconstruct a map for fine arts in Kaunas of the last century and invite you to take a look at the places of the city favoured by famous artists Antanas Samuolis, Viktoras Vizgirda, Antanas Martinaitis, Laima Drazdauskaitė, Leonas Strioga, Vytautas Povilaitis, Rimvidas Jankauskas-Kampas, Robertas Antinis, Arūnas Vaitkūnas, Alfonsas Vilpišauskas, Aušra Andziulytė, Elena Balsiukaitė, Aušra Vaitkūnienė, Edmundas Frėjus, Eugenijus Varkulevičius, et al., that inspired memorable works of art at a specific point of their creative life. The painters were not chosen at random, in part, it’s the representatives of late modernism, who had a huge influence on fine arts of Kaunas at the end of the 20th century. The works of these artists are the base for the collection of Kaunas Modern Art Foundation.
Upon the „Paths of Modern Art“ Kaunas locals and guests may not only walk the route offered by the Kaunas Modern Art Foundation (the route has 15 stops/spots), but also use the specially made stands with QR codes and a virtual map. These links contain illustrative photographs, sound recordings in Lithuanian and English, describing the places, artists and their work. One may view the works of the artists virtually (also live in special cases) as well as independently improve one’s knowledge of their creative biographies on the website of Kaunas Modern Art Foundation.
This publication documenting the route will allow the spots on the 20th century fine arts map to exist freely and for a long time (anybody in possession of the publication or with the help of the website will be able to create an individual or group tour). We hope that the artists’ stories describing certain places that we collected and picked out, will give you a chance for a romantic and meaningful walk through Kaunas.
In the centre of Kaunas, at K. Donelaičio St. 79 (architect Vladimiras Dubeneckis), first floor flat – a kommunalka – there was a private art gallery, one of the first in Kaunas. But do you know what a communal flat, or kommunalka for short, is? Most likely not. The great Smetonian apartments were turned into kommunalkas, where 4-5 families used to live, all with very different outlooks on life. Kommunalka was a social experiment and a […]
Kaunas School of Arts, nationalised and officially established in 1922, was the first such school in the city of Kaunas and the independent Lithuania as a whole. In addition to all the accolades (being a special place, where the history of fine arts in Lithuania of the XX century was being created) the glare of modernistic painting, sculpture, graphic arts, cherished by both Justinas Vienožinskis and his students, who comprised the Ars group, […]
One of the most famous pupils of Kaunas School of Arts, painter Antanas Samuolis, spent the most intense period of his creative life in Žaliakalnis, Kaunas, a wooden house on Vaisių street, among the apple trees. His only trip abroad was rather sad, compulsory due to an illness, he left Kaunas and Lithuania to go for treatment in Switzerland in 1939, where he died in poverty, buried without any loved ones attending and only the cemetery being […]
Robertas Antinis is constantly experimenting not because he had not found his own stylistics or method, but because of his creative temperament. According to the artist: “An author has to be young, elemental. That element, otherness, outlook, comprehension, naivete, inability to express, a desire to say or, on the contrary, not to say, and the saying being different than not saying, or the not saying being different from […]
The building complex at Rotušės sq. 26/27 was an official space for artists in the late 20th – early 21st century and an unofficial gathering place for artistic youth. The café “Skliautas”, still open here, was back then considered a cult space for free/bohemian world. And they loved their patrons, issuing painters with loyalty cards, still a novelty at the time, thus supporting and initiating their members into a bohemian circle. No […]
During the Soviet years, Steponas Žukas technical college of applied fine arts (so-called “Stepžukė”) was founded in place of Kaunas School of Arts, where Alfonsas Vilpišauskas taught painting in the 1970s. What is remarkable about this teacher and painter? He’s connected to the city spirit and especially Kaunas through one strong and tense thread – his students. At the end of a school year, upon evaluations, several of his students […]
The long-living four-year fine arts’ school of the city was given the name of Antanas Martinaitis only in this century. This art school is famous not only for having employed the famous painter of the 20th century, but also his comrades. Martinaitis was working along with the painters Povilas Ričardas Vaitiekūnas, Laima Drazdauskaitė, graphic artist Edmundas Saladžius, aquarellist Algirdas Lukštas and others, all of whom have left an […]
After returning from his studies to Kaunas in 1980s, Arūnas Vaitkūnas chose one motif that fascinated him, the atmosphere of an old staircase, and researched it for a while in his paintings as his own identity. Travelling through the world of staircases he, probably more than anybody else, encountered unusual perspectives, intertwined handrails, expressive lines of cross-beams, mysterious play of […]
During the rebirth, around 1987-1988, an interesting metal sculptor came from Klaipėda to live and work in Kaunas. At the time he was lauded for his masterful and functional metal articles, and that is why he got an invite to come work at the Kaunas Radio Factory “Banga”, located at the space of the Resurrection Church. He was trusted with the factory matters pertaining to plastics of metal. Everyone quickly realised that he was highly […]
In the square near Vytautas hill, where Laisvės Avenue intersects with the beautiful Trakų Street, quietly stands the sculpture “Motherhood” (1972). Submerged in the shadows of lush trees and possibly unseen by many a Kaunas’ local, it definitely deserves to be recognised. It is a creation of Leonas Strioga (b. 1930) – a famous Lithuanian artist, patriarch of Lithuanian sculpture, recipient of the National Prize. The sculptor has […]
Almost every author writing about the persona and creative work of Rimvidas Jankauskas-Kampas mentions the atmosphere of Kaunas and Vilnius of the 1970s and 80s in their memories. Indeed, Jankauskas-Kampas is a very influential example of a different lifestyle of that time. In the 80s Kaunas he was one of the students at Kaunas Steponas Žukas technical college of applied fine arts, who at the time were quite different from the common people. […]
This block is most often referred to as the Šančiai Barracks, due to the typical red brick buildings, erected back in the 19th century. The place, nicknamed ‘military borough’, is quite clear, rectangular plan, buildings following each other in a clear order, just like in the military. Paradoxically, eventually a lot of Kaunas’ painters settled here, setting up their workshops on a block with such a militaristic history. Some locals have […]
A special panoramic place in Kaunas – Santaka – is a hiking trajectory for many painters. Aušra Andziulytė enjoys walking here, observing, seeing her pictorial images. The vast grey backgrounds used in the paintings, carved with painful lines, like threads, where seemingly inspired by these […]
Usually, while travelling on Radvilėnų Road in Kaunas, one’s attention is drawn to the Zoological Gardens, hoping to catch a glimpse of some inhabitants. However, you should also check the other side of the road. Even a stop here would be worth it. Four huge reliefs, erected here around 1990, stand in front of the verdure of Ąžuolynas. These works, commonly known as Fauna, were created in 1979-1980 by a Kaunas local, Rimantas Šulskis […]
Vytautas Povilaitis – modernist painter, who drew the attention of Kaunas locals with the secrets of his urban landscapes, painted several portraits of the art lovers and provided museums with monumental compositions more than half of a century ago. However, the abstractions by Povilaitis that he started painting back in 1958, when abstract art was prohibited, criticised, censored and only the one official style of social realism was permitted […]