The Origins of Folk Art Research: Early Upheld Activities of Folk Art by Paulius Galaunė (Summary)

Lijana Šatavičiūtė-Natalevičienė (PDF)

The article presents the contribution of the well-known museologist, art historian and artist Paulius Galaunė (1890–1988) to folk art research and preservation. During the early period of activity in the 1920s and 1930s, the foundations of folk art research were laid, and collecting popularising and systematising folk art began.

The national identity of Paulius Galaunė began to form early in his life when he was studying in St. Petersburg. By the time he returned to Lithuania in 1918, he had already decided on a professional choice and perceived his mission as being one to work in the field of culture and art. In the beginning, Paulius Galaunė published articles calling on society to collect Lithuanian folk art and preserve it from extinction. Eventually, he focused on the fundamental problems of creative folk research and began to apply the same scientific criteria to professional art. The preparation of the substantial work Lithuanian Folk Art: Fundamentals of the Development of Artistic Forms (1930) became important in his biography. It was the first publication to discuss the genesis and terminology of Lithuanian folk art, identify its branches and group the works according to stylistic features. Paulius Galaunė treated folk art as a source from which modern artists could draw inspiration. After becoming the director of M. K. Čiurlionis Gallery, he invested much energy in organising folk art-collecting expeditions. During the first five years of its existence, the gallery accumulated about 6,000 folk art exhibits.

Lithuania’s presentations at interwar international exhibitions and the country’s image largely depended on Paulius Galaunė’s taste and vision of the country’s uniqueness, presented in folk art and artistic works symbolising the ethnographic past. At that time, his expositions of folk art in world exhibitions established the image of Lithuania as a country with a deep national tradition.

Keywords: Lithuania, M. K. Čiurlionis Gallery, expeditions, exhibits, national tradition