NOBA Nordic Baltic contemporary art platform

Ado Vabbe’s (1892–1961) diverse oeuvre is presented through its various themes in the largest overview exhibition ever of his works. Vabbe is mainly known for the avant-garde works of his youth, which constantly transformed and developed. These were raised in the 1920s to the pinnacle of the forming Estonian art life by the members of the literary group Siuru, many of whose books were illustrated by Vabbe. The writer August Gailit called him a passionate cornet who dancingly walked at the head of the echelon.

The career of the young artist, who had first shown his works at an exhibition in 1914, went ever upwards. He had the chance to study art in Munich and to supplement his artistic knowledge on a thrilling journey to Italy. During World War I, he lived in Moscow and St Petersburg, the centres of Russia’s artistic life, established himself as a fertile illustrator and was one of the founders of the Pallas Art Society in 1918. Vabbe’s knowledge of the new art trends of Europe was therefore not merely based on his reading material but because he had grown up in the middle of the teeming art world. After the birth of the Republic of Estonia, Vabbe was linked to the Pallas Art School and was a legendary teacher until its closing during the Soviet era. He taught many of the later luminaries of Estonian art: Karin Luts, Karl Pärsimägi, Elmar Kits, Endel Kõks et al.

The exhibition is divided into six sub-themes that highlight the artist’s early abstract oeuvre, with its playful Indian ink drawings, the colourful characters from commedia dell’arte, sun-drenched recollections from his trips south, nuanced sketches of everyday life and woman as a source of lust and dreams. The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated sweeping monograph of Ado Vabbe, which was one of the last research projects of the recently deceased art historian Tiiu Talvistu.

Curators: Tiiu Talvistu and Mary-Ann Talvistu
Co-ordinator: Magdaleena Maasik
Exhibition design: Tõnis Saadoja
Graphic design: Tuuli Aule

Thanks: Tartu Art Museum, Under and Tuglas Literature Centre of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, Vaal Gallery, Enn Kunila’s art collection, E-Kunstisalong, Haus Gallery, Vernissage kunst & raam, Gallery Rios Art, Väinö Tanner Foundation, Maarin Ektermann, Julia Gens, Tiit Jürna, Rita Kroon, Piret Kruuspere, Tiina Määrmann and Peeter Talvistu

Supporters: Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Sorainen, the emeritus attorney Peeter Lepik, Marek Kokk, Kaubamaja and Nordic Hotel Forum

Gallery name: Kumu exhibition spaces

Address: Weizenbergi 34 / Valge 1, Tallinn

Opening hours: Tue, Fri-Sun 10:00 - 18:00, Thu 10:00 - 20:00

Open: 28.08.2020 - 31.01.2021