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Collection of Ceramics and Porcelain

The ceramics and porcelain collection of the Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design (ETDM) comprises more than 3000 single items and sets by approximately 130 authors or producers. 

In the heart of the ceramics collection lays the work of Estonian professional ceramic artists from the 1950s until present. The eldest works in the collection date back to the 19th century (e.g., two vases by Julie Hagen-Schwartz, the painter from Tartu). 

Merely in the case of a dozen objects we are dealing with a so-called anonymous maker or producer from Estonian region (the Setu pot, ceiling lamp, etc.). From the very beginning the main focus while compiling the collection has been set upon the subject matter with high artistic value and therefore the historical heritage (or what is left in case of ceramics and porcelain in Estonia) has remained on background. 

In the year of 1950, Juuli Suits, one of the first Estonian professional ceramic artists whose professional studies took her to various countries across Europe, began to restore the documentation of the Estonian Art Museum’s collection of applied art that had been destroyed during the war. In the inventory book of the time, beside her own work, there have been already registered the ceramics of Valli Eller who started with her ceramics studies at the State School of Arts and Crafts in Estonia and later worked as the teacher both in that school as well as at the State Art Institute of Estonia. 

In addition to State School of Arts and Crafts student works (ceramics, porcelain painting), the ETDM collection also includes elegant forms treated in high fired burning created in the late 1920s and early 1930s by the sculptor Jaan Koort, which have had a pioneering impact on the Estonian ceramics traditions.
The high tide of the early 1960s sends the constrained canons of the 1950s off to the past. The lines of the artists that had started their creative path earlier (Aino Alamaa, Ellinor Piipuu, Mari Rääk) will be supplemented with a new generation of inspired and talented artists (Lydia Jõõts, Helene Kuma, Evi Mardna, Jutta Matvei, Ingrid Nõges, Imbi Ploompuu, Elgi Reemets, Aurora Tippe, and others), whose work constitutes to the nucleus of professional Estonian ceramics of the time. 

Not before long, other young artists join in gradually (Made Evalo, Luule Kormašova, Tiiu Lass, Anu Rank-Soans, Naima Uustalu, Mall Valk in the 1960s and Anne Keek, Marget Tafel, Helle Videvik, Viive Väljaots, a.o., in the 1970s) and enrich the developed general scene and artistic grasp. In the 1970s arrives the triumph of the large-scale mural panels and forms that take the floor in making the interiors more expressive (Leo Rohlin, Saima Sõmer).
A beautiful, functional form is no longer an aim as such, it rather becomes a tool for explicating the world. The search for a design-friendly solution feels a novel enterprise (the set by Leo Rohlin). 

In the late 1970s and early 1980s also the fervent creation borne by resonance of pop (Mai Järmut, Irja Kändler, Ülle Rajasalu) emerges among other trends and hastens the integration of Estonian ceramics into the general cultural scenes of the world. 

The movement toward a greater openness and advanced technical virtuosity (Ingrid Allik, Sergei Isupov, Urmas Puhkan, Annika Teder, Anne Türn, a.o.) deepens in the 1990s. On the background of the already known and tested techniques, the individual solutions specific to the given author become used more and more often, leading to the emergence of the term “author’s technique”. The turn of the century as favourable for diversity enables the ceramic artists to intensify their own original creational ways without difficulties. The contacts with the rest of the world are growing more frequent and this reflects also in the collection of EMAAD. 

The works painted on imported blank material forms the lion’s share of the porcelain collection of ETDM. That holds good both for the items from the State School of Arts and Crafts as well as the museological objects that come from the Porcelain Painting Workshop of Nikolai Langebraun. Only a few authors (Anu Ivask, Karin Kalman, Aigi Orav) have succeeded to create forms. Thanks to the gift from Jüri Kuuskemaa, the collection includes articles typically ornamented with blue floral decor from the porcelain factory that operated in Põltsamaa at the end of 18th century. 

The l970s-80s were prolific years first and foremost thanks to the products made in the porcelain-painting studio at the Art Production Factory ARS. It is the better part of the works by the ARS porcelain painters and artists or an author’s limited series that are stored in the ETDM collection (Eve Hallenberg, Reet Moor, Susanna Otema, Evi Rass, Krista Virkus, a.o.). All of them have developed their original artistic handwriting. 

Utterly different from other authors is the work with under-glaze painting by Indrek Hirv, made at the Leningrad porcelain factory of the name of Lomonossov. From among the earlier artists, the most memorable and original are the small-size plates with rhythmic decor by Adamson-Eric and Ilse Lepikson’s tense ornament that covers vessels built upon colour contrasts.
The ceramics and porcelain collection of ETDM is not a self-contained and closed system; it is continuously accruing both new Estonian art as well as the artefacts from earlier times. 

Additional information: 
Airi Ligi – curator of ceramics and porcelain collection.
Phone: +372 627 4605