Rīga Artists Group

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Rīga Artists Group. Association of painters and sculptors active from 1920 to 1940 (cubist period mostly in 1923-24). Oto Skulme (chairman of the group in 1923-39) exhibited the first Cubist composition in Rīga, Kompozīcija (Composition, 1920); soon after he was joined in his interest in Cubism by other members of the “Rīga Artists Group” – Romāns Suta (its first chairman), Jēkabs Kazaks, Konrāds Ubāns, Valdemārs Tone and others. These artists not only painted still lifes, but also depicted cafes, bars, scenes from the circus, vagrants and musicians. Through this a new range of the themes was introduced to Latvian art - motifs, images and the atmosphere associated with an urban environment and lifestyle. A new generation of art critics was formed. The most active mouthpiece for the spirit of the new era through his publications was Romāns Suta, who collaborated with Parisian modernists. He published his findings in not only Latvian magazines, but also in the Parisian journal “L’Esprit Nouveau”. Despite a changing membership, a relatively informal structure and internal disagreements about the specifics of a modernist agenda, the group projected a unified identity in its 13 exhibitions. Ironically, after their so-called Cubist show of 1923–4 and their joint exhibitions with the Group of Estonian Artists and the Polish constructivists of Blok (1924), realism was reappearing as an artistic force, and the members of the group were sharply berated by traditionalists who felt that their influences were outmoded. Shortly after, Suta and Aleksandra Belcova, the more liberal members, left to undertake projects influenced by Purism and Constructivism, while others turned towards realism.