Lithuanian Abstract painting in Soviet period ; Lietuvos abstrakčioji tapyba sovietmečiu
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Lithuanian Abstract painting in Soviet period ; Lietuvos abstrakčioji tapyba sovietmečiu


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VYTAUTAS MAGNUS UNIVERSITY ARCHITECTURE AND CONSTRUCTION INSTITUTE Kristina Budryt ė LITHUANIAN ABSTRACT PAINTING IN SOVIET PERIOD Summary of the Doctoral Dissertation Humanities, Art Studies (03 H) Kaunas, 2008 The right of doctoral studies was granted to Vytautas Magnus University jointly with the Architecture and Construction Institute on July 15, 2003, by the decision No. 926 of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania. Scientific supervisor: doc. dr. Rasa Žukien ė (Vytautas Magnus University, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H) Council of defense of the doctoral dissertation: Chairman: prof. habil. dr. Vytautas Levandauskas (Vytautas Magnus University, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H) Members: prof. habil. dr. Vladas STAUSKAS (Vytautas Magnus University, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H) prof. dr. (hp) Nijol ė TOLVAIŠIEN Ė (Vytautas Magnus University, Humanities, Art prof. habil. dr. Algirdas GAIŽUTIS (Vilnius Pedagogical University, Humanities, Philosophy 01 H) doc. dr. (hp) Giedr ė JANKEVI ČI ŪT Ė (Culture, Philosophy and Arts Research Institute, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H) Opponents: dr. Ieva PLEIKIEN Ė (Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H) prof. dr. (hp) Algis UŽDAVINYS (Culture, Philosophy and Arts Research Institute, Humanities, Philosophy 01 H) The official defense of the dissertation will be held at 3 p.m.



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Published 01 January 2009
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Kristina BudrytLITHUANIAN ABSTRACT PAINTING IN SOVIET PERIOD Summary of the Doctoral Dissertation Humanities, Art Studies (03 H) Kaunas, 2008
The right of doctoral studies was granted to Vytautas Magnus University jointly with the Architecture and Construction Institute on July 15, 2003, by the decision No. 926 of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania. Scientific supervisor: doc. dr.Rasaukien(Vytautas Magnus University, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H) Council of defense of the doctoral dissertation: Chairman: prof. habil. dr.Vytautas Levandauskas(Vytautas Magnus University, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H) Members: prof. habil. dr.Vladas STAUSKAS (Vytautas Magnus University, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H) prof. dr. (hp)Nijol TOLVAIIEN(Vytautas Magnus University, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H) prof. habil. dr.Algirdas GAIUTIS (Vilnius Pedagogical University,Humanities, Philosophy 01 H)doc. dr. (hp)GiedrJANKEVIČIT(Culture, Philosophy and Arts Research Institute, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H) Opponents: dr.Ieva PLEIKIEN(Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts, Humanities, Art Studies 03 H) prof. dr. (hp)Algis UDAVINYS (Culture, Philosophy and Arts Research Institute, Humanities, Philosophy 01 H)The official defense of the dissertation will be held at 3 p.m. on December 12, 2008 at a public meeting at Vytautas Magnus University, the Faculty of Arts, Laisvs av. 53, gallery 101 . Address: Donelaičio st. 58, LT-44248, Kaunas. Phone: (+370 37) 323599 Summary of the doctoral dissertation was sent out on November , 2008. The dissertation is available at the National M.Mavydas library, library of Vytautas Magnus University and library of Architecture and Construction Institute. The doctoral dissertation was prepared at VytautasMagnus University in 2004-2008.
Kristina BudrytLIETUVOS ABSTRAKČIOJI TAPYBA SOVIETMEČIU Daktaro disertacijos santrauka Humanitariniai mokslai, menotyra (03 H) Kaunas, 2008
Doktorantros ir daktaro moksl laipsni suteikimo teis suteikta Vytauto Didiojo universitetui kartu su Architektros ir statybos institutu 2003 m. liepos 15 d. Lietuvos Respublikos Vyriausybs nutarimu Nr. 926. Darbo vadov: doc. dr.Rasa UKIEN (Vytauto Didiojo universitetas, humanitariniai mokslai, menotyra 03 H) Disertacijos gynimo taryba Pirmininkas: prof. habil. dr.Vytautas LEVANDAUSKAS Didiojo universitetas, (Vytauto humanitariniai mokslai, menotyra 03 H) Nariai: prof. habil. dr.Vladas STAUSKAS Didiojo universitetas, humanitariniai (Vytauto mokslai, menotyra 03 H) prof. dr. (hp)Nijol TOLVAIIEN (Vytauto Didiojo universitetas, humanitariniai mokslai, menotyra 03 H) prof. habil. dr.Algirdas GAIUTIS (Vilniaus pedagoginis universitetas, humanitariniai mokslai, filosofija 01 H) doc. dr. (hp)GiedrJANKEVIČIT (Kultros, filosofijos ir meno institutas humanitariniai mokslai, menotyra 03 H) Oponentai: dr.Ieva PLEIKIEN(Vilniaus dails akademija, humanitariniai mokslai, menotyra 03 H) prof. dr. (hp)Algis UDAVINYS (Kultros, filosofijos ir meno institutas humanitariniai mokslai, filosofija 01 H) Disertacija bus ginama vieame posdyje, kurisvyks 2008 gruodio 12 d. 15 val. Vytauto Didiojo universiteto Menfakultete, Laisvs al. 53, 101 galerijoje. Adresas: Donelaičio g. 58, LT-44248, Kaunas. Tel.: (8 37) 323599 Disertacijos santrauka isista 2008 m. lapkričio d. Su disertacija galima susipainti Lietuvos nacionalinje M. Mavydo, Vytauto Didiojo universiteto, Architektros ir statybos instituto bibliotekose. Disertacija parayta Vytauto Didiojo universitete 2004-2008 metais.
INTRODUCTION Research Question The use of the term abstraction to define an abstracted painting that does not depict any objects has been long established in the contemporary art discourse. During the last century abstraction formed as a progressive tendency in art with regard to the art of the past based on representation. This is evidenced by its frequent rebirths arising from the most important events in the 20thcentury art, i.e. from historical modernism, the rise of the New York school after World War II and abstraction emerging again during the death of painting debate. It is imperative also to discover the old and the new forms of this term in Lithuanian art, to inscribe this important tendency of modernism into the wider context of art history, to investigate the possibilities for abstract art to transform by using discursive methods of contemporary scholarship. In Lithuania, the formation of the notion of abstraction that came here from Western art history was difficult and complex. At the end of the 1950s some art students started to work in a manner different from social realism imposed by the authorities. They started to apply the principles of abstractionism in their paintings and were immediately struck by a powerful opposition of the authorities which now can be reconstructed from contemporary sources: speeches of Communist Party members, the press and materials of meetings and congresses of art institutions (the LSSR State Art Institute and LSSR Artists Association). This study of a clash between two arts ideologies  abstraction and socialist realism  is among the most important questions in the scholarship focusing on Lithuanian abstract painting. During the complicated political-historical period when art was used for popular propaganda abstraction became one of the first prohibited forms of modernism that started disrupting the enforced isolation of culture and society. Many books not only on historical, political or social subjects but also on the art of the Soviet period have been published (and not only by Western theorists, but also by Central European and Russian scholars). However, even though there have been many publications and some doctoral theses on this period are close to completion in Lithuania, a study juxtaposing the two artistic phenomena (abstraction  social realism)
is still lacking in the context of Lithuanian art scholarship, which would investigate possible practices of abstract painting during the Soviet period in Lithuania. It is a risky step to define abstract painting as one of the prohibited, but existing, tendencies in Lithuanian art during the time of social realism. In theory of all times abstractionism was understood as the purification of painting: from the simplification of natural forms to their complete rejection. Not so many cases of pure abstract painting have been recorded in Lithuania, but mostly such cases when natural forms are reduced but not completely rejected. Yet knowing how modernism and all art tendencies related to it were prohibited in our local context and that the West had not experienced such prohibitions, the term of abstract painting will be used in this thesis to define both the works of pure and associative (based on references to nature) abstraction. Moreover, in this study the notion of abstract painting in Lithuania will be used to define the examples of painting that were only beginnings of abstraction in the artistic and wider context. They were still prohibited, ignored and criticised by the ideology of social realism as a bourgeois tendency of abstractionism that did not conform to the principles of Soviet art formulated by the Party. Whereas in the West abstraction, in its own time, was the great boom of modernism because it freed painting from the traditional language of representation and illustration, in Lithuania, in its local context, it had more functions: it was considered to be the great achievement of late modernism that helped to discover newer than mimesis aesthetic expressions in art; it was also a successful attempt to deny the enforced ideological rules of socialist realism. The Object of the Researchpainting of the end of the 1950s is Lithuanian abstract 1980s: its beginnings (the end of the 1950s, works by Saul Kisarauskien, Vincas Kisarauskas, Jonas vaas, Leonas Katinas and others), its crystallisation (works by Romualdas Lankauskas, Vladislovas ilius, arnas imulynas, Vytautas erys and others created until the end of the 1980s), unique models of painting (paintings by Kazimiera Zimblyt, JuzefaČeičyt, Vytautas Povilaitis and Eugenijus Antanas Cukermanas) and their transformations (works created by Arnas Vaitknas, Henrikas Čerapas, Rta Katilit, Laima Drazdauskait, Rimvidas Jankauskas-Kampas and others created in the 1980s).
The Aim of the Researchis to define and analyse works of Lithuanian abstract painting during the Soviet period by establishing and comparing the diversity of criticism and practices of abstract art in Lithuania over several decades (from the end of the 1950s to the 1980s). The followingobjectiveshave been set to achieve this aim: To define the most important theories of abstract art determining the main  characteristics of abstract painting; to reveal their specific qualities and the level of innovation.  To reveal the diversity of abstract art styles that crystallised after World War II and discuss the most influential tendencies.  To define the specific characteristics of abstract painting in Central European countries as the main artistic opposition to the ideology of the Soviet system.  how abstract art was prohibited and the scheme ofTo reveal the mechanism of socialist realist propaganda was implemented in the press during the late socialist period in Lithuania.  To analyse creative, ideological and material possibilities of individual artists to create abstract paintings in Lithuania during the late socialist period.  To distinguish and discuss artistic / technological qualities of the first representatives of abstract painting in Lithuania: K. Zimblyt, J.Čeičyt, V. Povilaitis and E. A. Cukermanas.  analyse the development of abstract painting in the 1980s that formedTo eventually; i. e. to define the relationship that art criticism had with the methods of painters who followed abstract tendencies and to define artistic goals and possibilities of the representatives of abstract painting.
The Methods of the Research Various research methods have been used in this thesis; their application depends on the range of problems identified in separate parts. The most important research method in this thesis is the historical-comparative method which suits best to juxtapose the universal dimensions of Western
and Central European art and to reveal the interpretative uniqueness of Lithuanian abstract painting. Culturological analysis has helped to study the social-cultural context of the period under discussion here by integrating some parameters of Marxist critique (the theory of ideology) and post-structuralist interpretation. By rejecting the premise of classical hermeneutics that the final arbiter of meaning is the creator of the object or its author post-structuralism introduces all other meanings of necessary reflections / reconstructions of contexts without separating the work of art from its social-economical or psychological reality. The post-structuralist treatment of the work of art as a discloser of other things, a creation of social construction, is very important for this thesis (from the post-structuralist perspective only other texts are intertextually reflected in a text which in themselves are reflections of other texts and so on). Such social constructions were necessary to reveal discursive oppositions especially strong in Soviet politics: the binary meanings of logic and rhetoric, public and private life. Culturological analysis has been carried out to deconstruct them by recording them and revealing their flexibility and conventionality. In the analysis of specific works of art phenomenological approach is combined with hermeneutic interpretation; this combination is necessary in order to discuss the object within the chosen horizon of the object, i.e. in a certain place in a certain time. Such an (phenomenological-hermeneutic) analysis of the research object helps to find more precise arguments in revealing the experienced context (horizon). Separate premises of objects, when reviewed, create possibilities to develop more specific hermeneutic interpretations from the phenomenological point of view. Therefore the artists work is examined by focusing mostly on the hermeneutics of the work of art but also without overlooking the sociological aspect. The Definitions of the Terms The term of abstraction has been used in art theory for a century; Wilhelm Worringer introduced a philosophical term into the field of art theory in 1908 in his treatise Abstraction and Empathy. However, this long-used term creates confusion and rather raises questions than clarity. According to some theorists (eg. David Ryan) this term is
used thanks to the established and universally accepted agreement; therefore it is used even by those artists who do not like to be attributed to any art tendency.  Together with the definition of an abstract, i.e. separated and generalised, image this thesis also uses four other terms of common origin but having different meanings:abstraction,monisactibstra,abstract artandabstract painting.  Abstraction is the most general of these four terms used not only to define a work of art created following the principles of abstraction, but also to express the theoretical principles of an abstracted work of art.  Abstractionism is a historical art tendency based on the achievements of the first artists who pursued abstract art in the 20th century: Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Casimir Malevich.  Abstract art refers to works created after World War II; it includes all narrower terms that existed in the USA and Western Europe at the time (the most important of them wereabstract expressionism andartinformel). Additionally, this term was also used in the Soviet press which also had to name somehow the styles of the opposing camp. The abstract art movements,abstract expressionism, artinformeland others, have been translated into Lithuanian or used in their original language as it has been standardized inDails odynas.  The term of abstract painting is mostly used to define works created by Lithuanian artists that were completely at odds with the principles of socialist realism and represented an abstracted landscape, a generalised motif or phenomenon or demonstrated any other rejection of a specific outline of things for the sake of the harmony and symbolism of colours, forms and tactility.  The term of Central Europe is an object of debate both in art history and politology, most often restricted to the general comparative history and art, but without trying to define clear boundaries of demarcation. This thesis refers to a study by the Czech art historian Vojtěch Lahoda analysing the borders of Central Europe and its art. His precise statements allow us to gain general insights into the artistic situation in Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia (former Czechoslovakia), Hungary and former Eastern Germany that used to be quite common (of course, this group will be corrected, for example, by omitting Austrian experience because its history was not so closely related to the Soviets as that of the other countries).
 A more detailed periodisation of the Soviet period is defined by the terms of thaw and 'post thaw. The notion of the thaw has become established in Lithuanian art history immediately after the restoration of independence. The beginning of the thaw period is linked to N. Khrushchevs speech at the XX congress of the SUCP in 1956 and it ended in 1964 when the SUCP CK plenum released N. Khrushchev from his responsibilities as the I secretary of the SUCP CK. Relevance of Research and Academic Innovation In this thesis abstract paining is treated as a radical artistic reaction in Lithuania in terms of its theoretical and historical characteristics, and the general artistic context during the Soviet period is analysed in terms of socio-political issues. This is a study of the most celebrated examples of Western European art (also American art) presenting the most recent tendencies that developed out of them and juxtaposing it with the Central European culture (as the area of Soviet influence). Western European culture and its artistic movements were a complete opposition to the artificially built Eastern Block during the Soviet period. The forced separation of this period defined its unique qualities that found one expression in Central Europe and a different one in countries occupied by the Soviets (eg. in Lithuania); it also formed the position of freedom of an alternativeart.  The development of Lithuanian art during the Soviet period has not been sufficiently researched not only in comparison to examples of Central European art, but also under the influence of local problems of such a peculiar period (political-cultural non-freedom). Without trying to create another survey of art prohibited during the period, this thesis provides an insight into the existence of abstract painting that was ignored in the 1950swhich defined and formed all further and more interesting1970s, manifestations of abstraction during the last decade of the Soviet period and after the restoration of independence. By emphasising this fact (of the development and continuity of a different,non-social realist art) the general interpretation of this study is based on the theoretical discourse developed at the start of this thesis: specific possible meanings of abstract painting that were widespread in the West and their unique repetitions in Central Europe. All these theoretical meanings did not reach Lithuania directly; they were treated by the Marxist-Leninist ideology as a bourgeois and
unsuitable philosophy. Due to constant criticism, prohibition and KGB persecutions written sources are scarce on how modernist works were created. Moreover, every year it is increasingly more difficult to interview the contemporaries of this period. Thus the reconstruction of the artists' goal to obtain as much information as possible that helped them to rebel in the domain of art is, although complex, but very valuable task of this research that helps to reveal precise meanings of abstract painting in Lithuanian art history. The Review of Literature and Sources Lithuanian art history lacks special comprehensive studies of abstract Lithuanian painting. Although there are some publications on art and cultural history of the period, and quite a few doctoral theses have been completed in Lithuania and monographs based on them have been published, they focus on other cultural objects and phenomena, hardly related to abstract painting. This research has had to be conducted on the basis of particularly varied and wide material, which has helped to study the chosen subject in all its aspects. Literature and sources used in this thesis can be divided into several more general subsections. Theoretical Works on the Discourse of Abstract Painting. The most important theoretical approaches for this study of abstract painting have been sought in works by W. Worringer, C. Greenberg and G. Deleuze; theoretical premises of W. Haftmann, Ch. Harrison and others have been assessed as well, which determined the further interpretative-problemic model of this thesis. The writings of W. Worringer, C. Greenberg and G. Deleuze are important thanks to different particularities in analysing abstraction. W. Worringer, who crystallised the notion of abstraction, provided the basis for C. Greenberg to analyse abstraction in terms of its optic potential, and for G. Deleuze, in the haptic and manual way. W. Haftmanns and Ch. Harrisons studies helped to define the research object  abstract painting. These authors who focus on the general question of abstraction often used abstraction based on symbolism as an appropriate example; this has helped to establish and define the boundaries of more varied abstract art in this study. Culturological and Historical Texts on the Period. Treatises analysing history and cultural-political problems, especially those on the politics of the totalitarian