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PRESS RELEASE 06.05.2008

KALEVIPOEG. Leather bindings from the collection the museum



The exhibition in the stairs gallery of EDTM is dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. The exposition includes 24 leather bindings of Kalevipoeg, the Estonian national epic written by Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald, executed within the period from the 1930s to 2004 by 17 Estonian leather artists. In the permanent exhibition in addition 4 bindings of Kalevipoeg are displayed.

During the period 1857-2003 the national epic Kalevipoeg has been printed for 18 times. Each new edition of the epic has attracted the binding artists to bind the book in leather. First the epic was bound in leather by Eduard Taska in 1935 in relation the 400th anniversary of Estonian book-printing.
Following the traditions set by Taska the bindings from the period 1950 -1960 emphasise the quality of leather as a material, supported by a simple and noble design. Decorative script and figural and ethnographical ornaments are entwined into a composition. Preferred methods are cutting and line techniques and modelling.
In the 1970s the style of Estonian leather artists becomes bolder and the range of technical methods is enlarged. High relief modelling and braiding are used more extensively and also authors take up technical experimenting. Rita Tänav-Veldemann creates a boldly archaic set of images with her bindings executed in high relief modelling. Naima Suude has created a whole series of bindings of Kalevipoeg using good old braiding method which allows emphasising fine nuances of the natural texture of leather.
The design of the binding of the epic is moving rather wilfully, by paths that defy time and fashion. The depiction of the links with myth is attempted through the use of symbols. In the 1980s and 1990s abstract approach is taken up and the cognitive relation with the subject is enhanced. The bindings of Luule Maar, Kaja Kits-Karm, Ella Summatavet and others provide a vivid evidence of extremely different associations of sign systems, all in their own way helping us to understand the ancient myth.
The edition of Kalevipoeg with the illustrations of Kristjan Raud that saw light in 2003 caused a new flood of leather bindings of Kalevipoeg. The bindings of Tiina Piisang, sound and dignified, direct the viewer to move from outside to inside. The black and grey and red binding of Kalevipoeg by Sirje Kriisa is an expression of emotionality and sensitivity, the artist having created a harmonious association with the strivings of the book designer Andres Tali.

The national epic of the Estonian people still calls our creative artists to interpret Kalevipoeg, to design it, thus making it intimate for both present and future generations


Curator: Anne Tiivel


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