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Foreign Ministry Presented Eerik Haamer Painting to Art Museum


No. 152-E

Today Foreign Minister Urmas Paet presented Eerik Haamer’s 1968 oil painting “Card Players” (“Kaardimängijad”) to the Art Museum of Estonia.

The foreign minister stated that the return of the painting, which is one of the best among Haamer’s works done in exile, from Sweden to its homeland is a significant event and demonstrates the good co-operation of the Foreign Ministry and the Art Museum of Estonia.

Director General of the Art Museum of Estonia Sirje Helme said that works done in exile by artists that fled Estonia in 1944 are very important to the museum. “These are a part of our cultural heritage just as much as the works of those who stayed here. I am happy that one such work has now arrived in Estonia and can be displayed as part of our permanent exhibit,” she added.

When presenting the painting to the museum, Foreign Minister Paet also noted that in addition to expanding the art museum’s permanent collection, the purchase of the painting also supported the Estonian community in Gothenburg. “The sum exchanged for the painting will help to insure the future of the Gothenburg Estonian House. This also corresponds with the wishes of Eerik Haamer, who felt supporting the community was very important – this is actually why he gave his painting to the Gothenburg Estonian House,” Paet explained.

The Foreign Ministry purchased the Eerik Haamer painting “Card Players” from the Gothenburg Estonian House upon the recommendation of the art museum for 12 000 euros. After the purchase of the painting the Foreign Ministry concluded a deposit agreement with the Art Museum of Estonia, according to which KUMU Art Museum will display the painting as of today in its permanent exhibition on the fourth floor.

Eerik Haamer (1908-1994) is one of the most important Estonian artists of the 20th century, whose works encompass the tragedy of the 1940s as well as a good-hearted and humorous perspective on life in Estonia and later in Sweden. The artist’s sharp eye and skilled brush recorded everything around him, including changes in society, from which he himself kept a good distance. Such themes include life in a summertime campsite full of urban holiday-makers in Sweden in the 1960s, which is what is depicted in Haamer’s painting “Card Players”. The work is one of the best in a series from the artist’s exile years entitled “Illustrated Swedish Life”.

In the 1950s the Haamer family made the small rocky island of Lyrö in Western Sweden their summer home, which brought a fresh mountain theme to Haamer’s works. Though the artist settled in nicely on the island, the ensuing years proved difficult. “Card Players” was painted as a protest against the lifestyle that Sweden’s welfare society had produced, in which campaigns promoting holidays and leisure time cultivated mass tourism and the invasion of naturally beautiful locations. The painting, filled with grotesque figures, depicts the hordes of tourists on Haamer’s home island of Lyrö, which was overrun every summer by holiday-makers’ cars, tents and caravans. In the centre of the painting a Swedish flag is raised, with which Haamer suggests that these changes in leisure time and holidays were a state-directed incentive.

Photos from the presentation of the painting:

Additional information:
Anu Adra-Entsik
Head of Marketing and Communication Department, Art Museum of Estonia
Tel: +372 602 6010

+372 637 7654



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