In Lithuania, both art and music have their ties to one guy: Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis. As an artist, he made significant contributions to symbolism and art nouveau and is often considered one of the prominent figures in European abstract art. As both an accomplished artist and musician, Ciurlionis is one of the most influential figures in Lithuanian cultural arts. In fact, a number of buildings have been named for him as well as an asteroid. I like his work; it almost seems like they all come from a fantasy story.
There are a number of different art museums spread across the country. The Palanga Amber Museum houses about 28,000 pieces of amber, some as jewelry, some as part of artwork, and some that include specimens of insects and plants from prehistoric eras (think Jurassic Park).
The Vilnius Guggenheim Hermitage Museum houses media art that includes film archives and Fluxus art. Fluxes art refers to a group of international artists during the 1960s who merged a wide variety of mediums into their art, from performance art to urban planning.
If I ever get to Lithuania, I’d have to check out the Lithuania Museum of Ancient Beekeeping. I have a thing for odd museums, and I think this one definitely fits in my list. This museum centers around the history of beekeeping and is part of the Aukstaitija National Park.
Early literature in Lithuania was written in Latin, the language of the church and of scholars. It wasn’t until the 16th century when works began being published in the Lithuanian language, which was The Simple Words of Catechism. The vast majority of published works at this time were religious texts, but more secular texts, like histories and dictionaries, began being published during the 18th century. Poetry and other forms of literature began to emerge during the early part of the 19th century, but when Russia took over, they banned all Lithuanian culture including publishing works in their language. Any publishing in Lithuanian was done in East Prussia (the capital was Königsburg, present-day Kaliningrad) and smuggled back over the border.
Even though printing Lithuanian literature was difficult for much of the late 19th century and into the 20th century, Lithuanian writers still managed to prevail. They utilized literary styles such as symbolism, expressionism, and impressionism. A rebellion against traditional literary styles took place; poetry became more politically and socially influenced and stretched the constraints of form, bringing in forms that were popular throughout Europe and other areas during that time.
Writers of note include Vincas Kreve-Mickevicius (novels, drama), Zemaite (short stories), Kazys Binkis (poetry), Oskaras Milasius (novels, short stories, collections), Vytaute Zilinskaite (children’s lit, poetry), and Tomas Venclova (poetry, essays). Several authors have emigrated from the country and have written from abroad.
Up next: music and dance