Estonian decadent art inspired by Charles Baudelaire at KUMU


September 9, 2017 / February 25, 2018



The exhibition of Estonian Art inspired by the poetry of Charles Baudelaire is waiting for you at the KUMU museum from the 9th of September to the 25th of February 2018.

“Do you remember the thing we saw, my soul,
that summer morning, so beautiful, so soft:
at a turning in the path, a filthy carrion,
on a bed sown with stones”
(Ch. Baudelaire trans. Jack Collings Squire).

Ever since the publication of the scandalous volume of poetry “Flowers of Evil”, written by Charles Baudelaire in 1857, many are the artists inspired by his melancholy, cynicism, pessimism, his desire for pleasures and his passion for everything strange and unusual.

Baudelaire’s “Flowers of Evil” is a criticism and pessimistic analysis of modernisation: sudden and revolutionary changes brought by the industrialisation, capitalism, the creation of metropolis and the belief in science and continuous progress. Modernisation leads to fear and to the feeling of losing one’s identity. It results in waves of decadence. Decadence is not only a negative and destructive force as it also creates opportunities to develop new ideas and try new approaches.

The decadent literature is a combination of beauty and ugliness. It is open to mysticisms, ask open questions on sexuality and the evolution of the status of men and women in a societal context. Being opposed to the bourgeois way of life and enhancing individualism, it offers an exit to the so-called reality and allows to psychological evils, vices and taboos to form lugubrious and intense images.

The decadent movement arrived in Estonia in the early 20th century, period of the birth of a national culture based on a symbiosis of national identity and occidental modernity. The “Flowers of Evil” exhibition is the first attempt on estonian decadent art of the early 20th century. You will find many works never displayed before like the ones of Eduard Wiiralt, Ado Vabbe, Erich Kügelgen, ALeksander Promet, Erna Brinckmann or Erik Obermann.

From 09/09/2017 to 25/02/2018
10:00 a.m to 6:00 p.m
Kumu exhibition spaces - Treasury of Estonian Art, 3rd floor.

14/09 at 6:00 p.m
Visit of the exhibition "Flowers of Evil" with the curator Lola Annabel Kass

16/09 at 2:00 p.m
Presentation of the exhibition "Flowers of Evil" in russian

19/10 at 6:00 p.m
Successive visits of the exhibitions "Flowers of Evil" and "The Savages of Germany".
Guided tours by the famous curator Eha Komissarov. Will be at hand the topics of death, erotism and beauty in the estonian decadent art and among the German expressionist artists.

The curator : Lola Annabel Kass
Arranging of the exhibition : Liina Siib
Design of the exhibition : Angelika Schneider
Coordinators of the exhibition : Karin Pastak, Liis Pählapuu, Ragne Soosalu
Contributors to the collection: Museum of Estonian Art ; Art Museum of Tartu ; Center of literature M. Under and F. Tuglas from the Science Academy of Estonia; the Estonian National Library; the Museum of Narva ; the Museum of Estonian Literature ; Museums of Haapsalu and Läänemaa ; other private collections.

More info on the website of Kumu

Read this article in: Français, Eesti,

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