2016 10 28 - 2017 03 05

Jurgis Baltrušaitis' Manuscripts

Jurgis Baltrušaitis' Manuscripts: For All and None

Jurgis Baltrušaitis (1903-1988), the son of a famous Lithuanian poet and diplomat, was an art historian in France who took a path that was well off the beaten track. His beautifully illustrated books present an unconventional view of art history: they reveal a world full of demonic creatures and enchanting illusions.

Baltrušaitis brought innovation to art research, by publishing books on art from the Caucasus, the interaction between Eastern and Western art during the Middle Ages, the imagery of fantasy, distorted perspectives, and enigmatic vision. His work received wide recognition: his books, written in French, were awarded prizes, and translated into Italian, Spanish, English, Romanian, Japanese and other languages.

Original documents and manuscripts relating to Baltrušaitis are preserved in a private archive in Paris. Part of that is now in Lithuania, thanks to his son Jean Baltrušaitis. His notes and drafts of his books are significantly supplemented by his drawings, photographs and sketches, which are closely linked to the writings. His manuscripts, exhibited here for the first time, are a unique phenomenon, testifying to the integrated practice of writing and drawing.

This series of drawings let us interpret the books and illustrations by the famous exile from a different angle. They reveal the main themes of the books, from Medieval decoration and miracles to anamorphoses and aberrations. They also show that Baltrušaitis turned drawing into a distinct form of thinking and creation, which playfully reveals the mysteries of illusion and the imagination.

Curator - Odeta Žukauskienė
Assistant - Gintaras Didžiapetris
Coordinator - Eglė Juocevičiūtė
Architect - Aleksandras Kavaliauskas
Designer - Laura Grigaliūnaitė

Sponsors: Lithuanian Ministry of Culture, Lithuanian Council for Culture, Exterus, Ad Rem Group, BTA Insurance
Media sponsors: Lietuvos rytas, lrytas.lt
Thanks to Jean Baltrušaitis, and the Cultural Attaché of the Republic of Lithuania in France
Organisers: the Lithuanian Art Museum, the National Gallery of Art