Exhibition “Unfamiliar Čiurlionis. The Vilnius Society of Art I”

29 03 – 27 05 2023
Opening 6 pm, March 29th, 2023
M. K. Čiurlionis House, Savičiaus str. 11, Vilnius

During a short period in Vilnius from 1907 to 1908, Čiurlionis joined the city’s artistic life and strived to revive and strengthen it. His activities in the Lithuanian Art Society are well known, but he also participated in another one, the Vilnius Art Society. At the founding meeting on 29 February 1907, he drafted the Society’s statutes, and at the Society’s first spring exhibition in 1909, he exposed his pastels. The Vilnius Art Society aimed to unite artists of different ethnicities and spread and develop art. The Society was headed by the burgomaster of Vilnius, Michał Węsławski, and his deputy was the painter Ivan Rybakov; its members included Lithuanians Petras Rimša, Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, and Antanas Žmuidzinavičius, Poles Józef Bałzukiewicz and Stanisław Filibert Fleury, Jews Lev Antokolsky, Mozes Leibowski, and Ber Zalkind, Russians Vasiliy Barmashov, Boris Vladimirskiy and others. The Society was active from 1908 to 1915, and held annual spring exhibitions in Vilnius, presenting realistic and modern art, and publishing exhibition catalogs in Russian, Polish, and Lithuanian.

The Vilnius Art Society invited the city’s residents to evenings called “Artists’ Saturdays”. They combined a concert program with entertainment, mask parties, and dancing. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, cabarets proliferated in European urban culture, where artists, writers, musicians, and actors gathered, and a satirical spirit prevailed, with cartoons and humorous publications being produced. The Vilnius Art Society also had a cabaret, “The Stray Dog”. The Lithuanian National Museum of Art has preserved an album “Artists’ Saturday No. 2”, created by the members of the Society in 1913. The writer Feodosij Ferenc-Sokolovskij wrote parodies for it, and the artists Moses Leibowski, Ber Zalkind, Herman Torvirt, and Ivan Rybakov drew humorous drawings from the artists’ daily life. In the drawing “Artists’ Saturday No. 2 Editorial Committee”, they portrayed themselves as satyrs – creatures from Greek mythology, half-human, half-goat, symbolizing fun, vitality, and music.

Exhibition team:
Curator Laima Laučkaitė
Graphic design Akvilė Aglickaitė
Consultant Žygimantas Augustinas
Coordinator Milda Pleitaitė

Organiser: M. K. Čiurlionis House
Partner: The Lithuanian National Museum of Art
Media sponsor: Vilnius: 700 Years Young

Tuesday to Friday: from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
Saturday: from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday and Sunday: CLOSED.


Sistema ir dizainas: Jonas Lekevičius