Distinguishing Features of Art Made by Latvia Women Through History
What comes to your mind when you think of Latvia women? For a lot of people, it’s easy to associate these women with exotic looks and housewifely duties. However, there’s more to Latvian women and the Latvian culture than their representation in the media. In the actual sense of it, most Latvian women are creative geniuses with several artistic productions to their name.
Back in the 19th century, these women were relegated to feminine stereotypes and were caricatured mercilessly by Latvia men if they stepped outside the roles or boundaries set for them by society. However, some courageous women broke those stereotypes and kickstarted an era of emancipation where Latvian women dominated the art scene.
In this article, we’ll examine the core distinguishing features of art made by Latvian female artists. But first, let’s start with the basics. Who exactly were these women?
Popular Female Latvian Artists Through History
Here are some of the most popular Latvian women who dominated the art scene in the 20th century and whose works are now commonly spoken about in Riga, the capital of Latvia:
Born in 1925, Dzemma Skulme was a creative visual artist and modernist painter who came from the Skulme family of artists. Her mother, Marta Liepina-Skulme was the first ever female sculptor in Latvia.
Unlike her mother, however, Dzemma’s major artworks were based on oil, acrylic, and watercolors. In the 1950s, she dabbled into book and magazine illustrations and by 1970, she had developed the theme of the caryatid. Basically, a caryatid is a sculpted female architectural design that substitutes for an actual column or pillar. This recurring theme was reflected in some of her popular works like The Women of Nica and Caryatid (obviously).
Born in 1922, about three years before Dzemma, Biruta Baumane was yet another popular Latvian female artist that dominated the modernist art scene. She was a figurative painter and was one of the most notable leaders of the “harsh style” which was predominant in Latvian art during the late 1950s and 1960s.
Biruta’s major artworks were often portraits, still lifes, and women’s nudes. Pink and green were her favorite colors and they featured frequently in her art pieces, especially in still lifes. Long after her death, you can still find some of Biruta’s renowned pieces in the Latvian National Museum of Art, Riga Art Foundation Collection, and several other art galleries.
Ingrida Kadaka is more of a contemporary artist than the other female artists listed above. She was born in 1967 and is an artist as well as a book designer and illustrator. Unlike Biruta, Ingrida tends to sway towards oil paintings and folklore motifs, rather than sculptures or still lifes. Although she’s mostly popular for her creativity and startling skill with the brush, most art enthusiasts and critics admit that the humor, brilliant color, and sheer simplicity evident in her works are the tipping scales for her popularity.
This brings us to the big question: how can we distinguish Latvian women art from other art forms that have dominated the scene through history? For starters, art made by modernist and historical female Latvian artists have some features in common. These include:
Portraiture and still life
Between the 19th to 20th century, portraiture and still life were predominant themes and forms in art made by the women of Latvia. This can be seen in most of Biruta Baumane’s pieces and other female artists in her time.
Wondering why these themes and forms were so popular among female artists in Latvia? Well, it’s simple. Since the women didn’t have access to the same high quality of education that their male contemporaries did and as such, didn’t have the experience or knowledge required to dabble into other complicated art forms.
Many latvian women artists in history typically had Russian influences in their paintings and art pieces. This was mainly because they often had Russian tutors and were exposed to the works of some influential Russian artists like Vasily Rozhdestvensky and the likes.
One Latvian female artist whose work heavily reflected Russian themes and influences was Lucija Kursinska whose paintings featured geometrical shapes and active color combinations. It may also interest you to know that Lucija’s tutor was Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, a Russian painter. So, we can easily see how the Russian influence crept in.
Over the decades and centuries, Latvian female artists have slowly crept from the shadows and have begun to dominate the art scene. Although a lot has changed since the 20th century, it’s easy to spot art made by historical Latvian women at an exhibition or art gallery because their art pieces often tow similar yet different paths.