Views of Vilnius from the collection of the law firm Ellex Valiunas
‘Vilnius has a remarkable and difficult to explain feature, a certain magic, which makes people fall in love with it, as if it was a live creature. For more than two centuries, many painters and graphic artists have depicted the architecture and views of Vilnius’ (Czesław Milosz, Abėcėlė, Vilnius, 2012, p. 106).
Both local artists and artists visiting from various countries liked to portray Vilnius. The word that best describes their work is the Greek word topophilia, meaning ‘love of place’. The exhibition ‘Vilnius. Topophilia’ shows the evolution of portrayals of Lithuania’s capital in the 19th and 20th centuries: how the city and representations of it changed over those two centuries, what interested artists, and how their attitudes were affected by the historical, political, social, cultural and artistic circumstances. This exhibition presents portrayals of Vilnius in chronological order, and consists of four parts. ‘Passionate Documentation’ reflects the 19th century. ‘A Personal Look’ examines the early 20th century. ‘The Mythical Image’ represents the 20th-century interwar period. And ‘A City of Modernists’ shows the second half of the 20th century. A number of works depict famous and iconic sites in the capital city, but even people who know Vilnius very well will be surprised at the enigmatic sights and unexpected discoveries.
The exhibition presents more than 200 paintings and graphic works. Some are by lesser-known artists, such as Jan Gintowt-Dziewaltowski, faithful admirers of Vilnius who portrayed the city from unexpected vantage points. Others are by graduates of the Art Department at Stephen Báthory University, such as Roman Jakimowicz, Walenty Romanowicz, Adolf Poplawski, Leon Kosmulski and Zbigniew Kaliszczak. They are presented alongside works by more famous artists, such as Wincenty Slendziński, Jerzy Hoppen, Bronisław Jamontt, Adam Międzyblocki, Viktoras Vizgirda, Vytautas Mackevičius, Jonas Švažas and Petras Repšys. The exhibition also presents works of art or series about Vilnius (vilniana) by foreign artists: 19th and 20th-century works by artists from Poland (Ignacy Pinkas, Wilhelm Ossecki, Zofia Stankiewicz), Germany (Alfred Glatz, Alfred Schlemm), France (Leono Jean-Batiste Sabatier) and England (Frederick Arthur Farrell). It displays works on the theme of Vilnius from the art collection of the law firm Ellex Valiunas, which has Lithuania’s largest private art collection on the theme of Vilnius, much of which is included in the exhibition.
Curator: Laima Laučkaitė
Architects: Justinas Dūdėnas, Jurgis Dagelis
Organisers: Lithuanian Art Museum, National Gallery of Art, law firm Ellex Valiunas
Patron: Ellex Valiunas
Sponsors: JCDecaux, Exterus
Media sponsors: LRT, Lietuvos rytas, lrytas.lt