art 2002/1
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2007 m. dešiniajame Neries krante turėtų būti atidaryta Nacionalinė XX a. dailės galerija


A Vision of the Collection and Historical Versions

by Skaidra Trilupaitytė

Debated Issue: National Gallery of the 20th c. Lithuanian Art

On April 17, 2001, after 10 years of sustained efforts by the Lithuanian Artists’ Association and a continued disscusion in the present publication, the Art Council of the Culture Ministry approved a general concept of the National Art Gallery whose mission is to accumulate, research and present Lithuanian art of the 20th and 21st c. to the local and foreign audience. Based on the concept, the opening of the National Art Gallery should be related with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the first Lithuanian Exhibition in January of 2007.

by Skaidra Trilupaitytė

Over the last decade, the discussions of the possibility of a national 20th c. art gallery have repeatedly tackled different aspects of the idea. This idea was to create “a national collection” representing Lithuanian art of the second half of the 20th c., while the establishment of a concrete institution, the National Gallery, the history of which is reviewed in the article, does not necessarily reflect the expectations, which have emerged in the midst of these discussions.
The aspiration to have a national gallery was generated in the mid 1980s by the most prestigious artists’ organization, the then Artists’ Union of Soviet Lithuania. The Culture Fund was in support of the idea. Fund raising for the future gallery also started. In the late 1980s, a suggestion was made to continue the already started collection of funds and to set up a public commission in charge of the project. Yet in 1989, the Artists’ Union experienced disturbing changes of separation from the Soviet Artist’s Union. In the early 1990s, the Lithuania Culture Congress championed freedom and rights of a liberated artist, including participation in drawing cultural legislation. Suggestions to set up a public body in charge of establishing a national gallery were reiterated. With the decentralization of cultural policy and the change of art purchasing procedures, in 1991, the Artists’ Association decided to endow the exhibitions fund of the Artists’ Association to the museums. Yet the idea of a national gallery was watered down by interior ideological contradictions. Now emerged two visions of the collection: that of official and unofficial art of the Soviet period. The Association also lost previous momentum in participating in the process of organizing a national gallery.
Based on the documentation, a subdivision of the Lithuanian Art Museum, currently called National Gallery, started operating as of June 1993, but was established not by a ministerial decree, but by that of the museum’s director. It is critical to point out that no new institution was founded nor any new guidelines were drawn. The gallery opened with the exhibition of émigré art donated to Lithuania and continues accumulating the works of émigré artists, without even questioning the real artistic value of this lavishly donated heritage. The “local” artists, in contrast, are no longer willing to donate their works for the gallery, moreover, reluctant to sell them. Because their works would be purchased for the abundant stocks of the old museums, but not the NEW National Gallery…

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