The phenomenon of western photography of the USSR
The “Lithuanian school” in the context of Soviet photography from the 1960s to the 1980s had an important influence on Soviet photojournalism. Lithuanian photography, which had no propaganda dimension, is of special interest to the curators of the Lumiere Brothers’ Center for Photography. More than two hundred and fifty works by three classical photographers, Antanas Sutkus, Aleksandras Macijauskas and Vitaly Butyrin, are presented in the exhibition named The Phenomenon of the Lithuanian School. Western Photography in the USSR.
Those three photographers participated in the legendary exhibition held in the Moscow House of Journalists in 1969 after which Soviet Photography magazine actually introduced the term the “Lithuanian School”. The Baltic exhibition, with its close-ups, pensive looks, dramatic contrast of lighting, insignificant and accidental fragments, all against a background of the “heroic realism” of the Soviet photography, was revolutionary.
This should be no surprise, as Lithuania always considered itself to be part of Europe, and the same three photographers participated in exhibitions all over Europe, relying on the experience of rather European photo-reportage and the artistic traditions of the beginning of the 20th century.
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Antanas Sutkus said: “On the one hand we meant to show that we are not totally Soviet, on the other we did not want to go extremes with ‘the national idea’. To show our common Lithuanians what we were doing; that was the aim”.