The graphic novel of Konrad Mägi received recognition

Joonas Sildre’s graphic novel “Colourful Mägi” was recognized at last year’s 25 most beautiful book competition, which received a special award from the Association of Estonian Printing Industry. Joonas Sildre’s novel looks at the life and work of Konrad Mägi in the form of a graphic novel, emphasizing especially Mägi’s experience with colour and his esoteric searches.

Värviline Mägi

Joonas Sildre “Colourful Mountain”
Designer: Joonas Sildre
Publisher: Konrad Mägi Foundation
Printing house: Tallinn Book Printing House

Nils Ohlsen received the Konrad Mägi Foundation Award 2023

Nils Ohlsen, director of the Lillehammer Art Museum, is the winner of the Konrad Mägi Foundation Award 2023.

Together with Pilvi Kalhama, director of the EMMA Museum, Nils Ohlsen curated the solo exhibition “Konrad Mägi – Estonia´s Great Painter” in Lillehammer, displaying more than 100 Mägi´s paintings, ranging from landscape paintings to portraits and still lifes.

The exhibition attracted remarkable audience attention and significant media coverage in Norway.
The Konrad Mägi exhibition was named as one of Norway´s eight most important art events of the past year by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation.

Nils Ohlsen is an art historian who has worked as museum director, head of research and curator in several museums.

He has said that “The way Konrad Mägi uses colours and structures his paintings is fantastic. He interprets nature in an entirely unique figurative language. Konrad Mägi is a breath-taking modernist on the same level as Edvard Munch and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner”.

The Konrad Mägi Foundation Award is given to an individual or collective who have significantly contributed to the promotion of the life and work of Konrad Mägi (1878–1925), the most important painter in the Estonian art history. Previous award winners include the EMMA Museum director Pilvi Kalhama (2022), film director Marianne Kõrver (2020), designer Tõnis Saadoja (2019) and art historian Eero Epner (2018). The prize amounts to €5,000.

The festive award ceremony took place on November 1st, in Tartu, where an international conference on the 145th anniversary of the birth of Konrad Mägi was held at the Heino Eller Music School.

Commemoration of the 145th Anniversary of the Birth of Konrad Mägi

1 November 2023 marks the passing of 145 years since the birth of Konrad Mägi (1878–1925). Numerous events will be held at the initiative of the Konrad Mägi Foundation over the course of a month to mark this occasion. You will find further information on these events below.

A musical excursion to Konrad Mägi’s painting locations in Norway, Italy, France, and Estonia will be presented at the Estonian National Museum Library on 1 October at 12 noon. Works by Jean Sibelius, Albert Roussel, Fartein Valen, Ottorino Respighi, and Eduard Tubin will be performed in a programme put together by Mihhail Gerts. The performers are Heili Rosin-Leivategija (flute) and Mihhail Gerts (piano). Eero Epner will speak about the paintings Mägi painted in those places.

The exhibition Konrad Mägi. Unseen Paintings will be opened at the Estonian National Museum on 12 October. In recent years, the Konrad Mägi Foundation has found dozens of hitherto unknown works by Mägi from his various creative periods. They were first displayed at the Mikkel Museum in Tallinn in August of last year, yet the current exhibition is an expanded exposition where paintings that have come to light in recent years and even in the last few months will be on display. The works have been discovered in Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Canada, and Australia. They include both the largest and the smallest known paintings by Konrad Mägi, in addition to the only known work from Mägi’s Copenhagen period, a seascape that has been folded up and hidden behind a closet for years, one of the first watercolours by Mägi from Helsinki, and so on. Visitors will also have the chance to read stories in the exhibition hall about the disappearance of Mägi’s paintings. The exhibition has been put together by the Konrad Mägi Foundation, designed by Mari Kurismaa, and its graphic design is by Mari Kaljuste.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue that tells the stories of the disappearance and rediscovery of the paintings. The designer of the catalogue is Angelika Schneider.
The exhibition will be open to the public from 13 October 2023 to 7 January 2024.

Joonas Sildre’s voluminous graphic novel Värviline Mägi (Colourful Mägi) will be published in mid-October. This novel was completed as a product of many years of work. It pictorially sums up the more important turning points in Mägi’s life and oeuvre, stressing various colour schemes in Mägi’s art. Joonas Sildre is the author of a biography of Arvo Pärt, which has earned international recognition. Sildre explores Konrad Mägi within the network of Mägi’s own internal tensions and quests, the international context, and conditions in Estonia in the first half of the 20th century. ‘I have always been interested in what that force is that activates an artist,’ says Sildre. ‘Konrad Mägi appeared to be a prime example of the complicated path of an artist, altogether an archetype, whose life span would be interesting to examine. Yet I knew that to solve the enigma named Konrad Mägi, I would also have to study the deeper colour layers situated beneath the surface and shed light on them.’

The project room exhibition Konrad Mägi in Close-up will be opened at the Kumu Art Museum on 19 October. The exhibition is based on the master’s thesis of Darja Jefimova, the keeper of the painting collection of the Art Museum of Estonia. Nearly thirty Konrad Mägi paintings were documented through technical examinations in the course of that thesis. The exhibition reveals to visitors layers of Mägi’s paintings that cannot be seen with the naked eye: underdrawings, overpaintings, corrections, and changes. Various technical means are used. The exhibition’s designer is Villu Plink and its graphic designer is Külli Kaats.
The exhibition will be open to the public from 19 October 2023 to 14 April 2024.

The Theatrum premiere of Konrad Mägi kirjad (Konrad Mägi’s Letters) will take place on 31 October at the Estonian National Museum. Konrad Mägi’s life story, human relationships, and world view are brought before the audience through Mägi’s own words in Ott Aardam’s musical production. Mägi’s confession-like correspondence allows us to glimpse the development of an artist and his inner attitudes. Theatrum actors read Konrad Mägi’s letters. Georg Jakob Salumäe has composed original music for the production, which will be performed by a string quartet. The next performance of this production will take place on 1 November at the Theatrum theatre hall in Tallinn.

An international conference on Konrad Mägi will be held on the 145th anniversary of the birth of Konrad Mägi on 1 November at the Heino Eller Music School in Tartu. The conference speakers are Pilvi Kalhama, Directress of the Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Timo Huusko, Senior Curator at the Ateneum Art Museum, Nils Ohlsen, Director of the Lillehammer Art Museum, and Eero Epner of the Konrad Mägi Foundation. Konrad Mägi’s oeuvre will be placed in various international contexts and his works will be considered from new angles. Pilvi Kalhama will give a presentation entitled ‘Breaking Canons. The Power of Dissidence in Konrad Mägi’s Oeuvre’. In his presentation, Nils Ohlsen will analyse parallels in how Konrad Mägi and members of the Die Brücke art movement went to the seashore on islands and how they found new creative impulses there. Timo Huusko will consider the emergence of Romanticism and Modernism in Konrad Mägi’s landscapes. Eero Epner will speak about the activities of the Konrad Mägi Foundation. All the speakers will also engage in a panel discussion. The conference will be in English with translation into Estonian.

On that same day, the traditional Konrad Mägi Foundation Award will be presented to a person who has done a great deal to popularise the life and work of Konrad Mägi. Hitherto, the painter Tõnis Saadoja, the film director Marianne Kõrver, and Directress of the Espoo Museum of Modern Art Pilvi Kalhama, among others, have earned the award.

A postage stamp from the treasures of the Art Museum of Estonia will be presented – this time the stamp depicts Mägi’s painting of Marie Reisik (1916). Marie Reisik was a suffragette and Mägi’s good friend. Mägi created an extraordinary portrait of her, where a convincing result is achieved using scant painting devices. This is one of the most personal and psychological portraits in Mägi’s oeuvre.

The first episode of a television series on Konrad Mägi will be broadcast on Estonian Television (ETV) at 22:05 on the evening of 1 November. Mägi’s path to art and the importance of people, nature, and colour in his works will be discussed through four episodes. Kristi Kongi, Lola Annabel Kass, Marek Tamm, Tiit Hennoste, Kadi Polli, Kaido Ole, Linda Kaljundi, Tiit Pääsuke, Daniele Monticelli and Tõnis Tatar will analyse Mägi and his era. Shots of locations where Konrad Mägi painted and of his paintings add expressiveness to the episodes. The director of the series is Erle Veber, and the editor is Kai Väärtnõu.

Starting in September, the television series Kunstihetk (A Moment in Art) will be broadcast on ETV on Thursdays after the OP! telecast. Each episode of this series created by Marianne Kõrver brings a painting from Mägi’s oeuvre to viewers and expands upon the backgrounds of each painting and the contexts in which they were created.

THE NORWEGIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION GIVES RECOGNITION: The exhibition of Konrad Mägi’s works opened in Lillehammer turned out to be the biggest surprise of the year

The solo exhibition of Konrad Mägi’s works entitled Konrad Mägi Estonia’s Great Painter, which was opened at the Lillehammer Art Museum in Norway in November, has attracted a great deal of attention among the public in Lillehammer as well as from critics.

The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) selected the Konrad Mägi exhibition as one of Norway’s eight most important art events of the past year along with the opening of Norway’s new national museum. The exposition of Mägi’s works is referred to as the biggest surprise of the year.

Many people stress how surprised they were since until now, Konrad Mägi has been relatively unknown in Europe on political grounds and for reasons of cultural policy. Art historians also admit that Mägi’s oeuvre was hitherto unknown to them.

‘I was really surprised when I saw his paintings and I immediately decided that his works have to be exhibited in Norway,’ says the German art scholar Nils Ohlsen, Director of the Lillehammer Art Museum. ‘The way he uses colours and structures his paintings is fantastic. He interprets nature in an entirely unique figurative language.’

Additionally, numerous reviews have appeared where Mägi’s very original and individual pictorial language, virtuosity, use of nontraditional and intense colours, and exploration of the border areas between reality and poetry are highlighted. Mägi’s nature paintings are noticed first and foremost, and they are characterised as being mysterious and abundant.

Nils Ohlsen curated the Konrad Mägi exhibition. Dozens of paintings from all of Mägi’s creative periods have been brought together to this exhibition. The works are from the Art Museum of Estonia, Tartu Art Museum, Enn Kunila art collection, and the collections of numerous private collectors. The exposition is the continuation of the exhibitions of Mägi’s works that have been held in recent years at the EMMA Museum in Espoo, Finland and the GL Strand Museum in Denmark, which have similarly attracted the attention of the public and have earned laudatory responses.

This exhibition will remain open until 2 April 2023.

The exhibition Konrad Mägi – Estonia’s Great Painter was opened in Lillehammer

An extensive retrospective exhibition of Konrad Mägi’s (1878–1925) oeuvre was opened at the Lillehammer Kunstmuseum in Norway on 26 November.

As she opened the exhibition, Sirje Karis, the First Lady of Estonia, observed that the exposition is a good example of interaction and cooperation between different cultures. ‘It is difficult to measure its effect, yet it nevertheless broadens our outlook and enriches life. I too looked at Konrad Mägi’s Norwegian landscapes in a different way here in Norway,’ remarked Sirje Karis.

‘Culture and art develop in penetrating introspection as well as in contact with other cultures. Konrad Mägi is an excellent example of how contact with varied cultures affects art,’ said Sirje Karis.

‘I have been asked what makes Konrad Mägi special. That can be clearly perceived. He captures something essential regarding life, something universal that transcends time. He is always fresh and does not fade. He has an effect on people. That is miraculous.’

Portrait of a Norwegian Girl. 1909. Oil on canvas. Tartu Art Museum

This is the third and last chapter of the exhibition of works by Konrad Mägi curated by Pilvi Kalhama, which has previously been exhibited at the Espoo Museum of Modern Art EMMA in 2021, and at the Copenhagen Art Center GL Strand in 2022.

Konrad Mägi’s paintings are surprisingly independent, while at the same time showing connections to leading international developments around 1910–1920, for instance neoimpressionism and its characteristic pointillist painting technique, as well as expressionism and cubism. Due to this richness, his art is still very fresh and thrilling.

The exhibition contains around 120 paintings from various periods, among them many of his main works. 

The exhibition is co-produced by the Art Museum of Estonia, the Lillehammer Kunstmuseum and the Espoo Museum of Modern Art EMMA. It is curated by the director of the Lillehammer Kunstmuseum, Nils Ohlsen, and Pilvi Kalhama from EMMA.

The exhibition Konrad Mägi – Estonia’s Great Painter will be open until 2 April 2023.

Konrad Mägi’s oeuvre covered by new substantial work

A new album featuring the complete works of early 20th century Estonian painter Konrad Mägi (1878–1925) has been published in English.

A production of the Konrad Mägi Foundation, the album’s nearly 500 pages include about 100 of the artist’s most important works accompanied by mini-essays compiled with input from not only art history but meteorological data and botanical analysis for pinpointing some details characteristic of Mägi. It also explores the historical, social, political, aesthetic and other contexts. A number of the locations where Mägi painted have been identified more precisely.

The album includes a full index of Mägi works, with thumbnail reproductions of all 283 of Mägi’s known works, including the ones that survive only as a black-and-white reproduction. In the course of compiling the album, close to 40 hitherto unknown or lost Mägi works were found.

The album also includes a short biography of the artist and is furnished with a number of biographical and illustrative photographs and other materials.

The album was compiled by art historian Eero Epner with some of the entries contributed by Lola Annabel Kass. Design and layout is by Angelika Schneider. The translation into English is by Kristopher Rikken and copy editing of the translation is by Martin Rünk.

This is the first work of this size surveying the works of Mägi to be published in English.

The book is published by Sperare OÜ.

Pilvi Kalhama was Awarded the Konrad Mägi Foundation Prize

Pilvi Kalhama, the directress of the Espoo Museum of Modern Art (EMMA), was awarded this year’s Konrad Mägi Foundation Prize for her important contribution to introducing the life and oeuvre of Konrad Mägi.

The exhibition Konrad Mägi – The Enigma of Painting, which included altogether 150 works from Mägi’s surviving heritage, was held under Pilvi Kalhama’s curation at the EMMA art museum in Espoo from September of 2021 to January of 2022. This was the largest solo exhibition of Mägi’s works of all time. The exhibition drew a great deal of attention. More than 50,000 art enthusiasts visited the exhibition.

The idea and opportunity for the next foreign exhibition already came about at the time of the EMMA exhibition. The exhibition Konrad Mägi – The Enigma of Painting was held at the GL Strand Museum in Copenhagen from March to May of this year, again curated by Pilvi Kalhama.


Konrad Mägi’s solo exhibition will be opened in Lillehammer in November of this year. Pilvi Kalhama, who is also this exhibition’s co-author, has played an invaluable role in making this exhibition possible as well.

When introducing the EMMA exhibition and the catalogue that accompanied it, Pilvi Kalhama said: ‘Through his paintings, Mägi the cosmopolitan conveys that which he saw, experienced, and learned on his travels, always presenting his own version and interpretation of the art movements of his time. This makes his oeuvre fascinating for the viewer of today as well. It is important to highlight talents who worked on the outskirts of art and to understand the multifaceted nature of modernism.

In his soul, Mägi felt like a northerner, but his colour palette was bright and multicoloured in a way that was more typical of Southern Europe. Colouring was of the utmost importance for Mägi as an artist. I would even say that colour was the point of departure for his works. I wish that this exhibition and book will reveal Mägi’s oeuvre to a broader audience both in Finland and on an international scale.’

Thanks to Pilvi Kalhama, Konrad Mägi’s oeuvre really has been more fully revealed to the broader public in Finland as well as in Denmark and soon also in Norway.

The Konrad Mägi Foundation Prize is intended for a person or group that has done a great deal for introducing the life and oeuvre of Konrad Mägi (1878–1925), the most important painter in the history of Estonian art. The Prize has previously been awarded to the film director Marianne Kõrver (2020), the designer Tõnis Saadoja (2019), and the art historian Eero Epner (2018). The amount of the Prize is 5,000 euros.

The festive conferral of the Prize to Pilvi Kalhama took place on 8 October at the Estonian National Museum, where around twenty paintings by Konrad Mägi could be viewed over the course of eight months at the exhibition Beauty of Colours. Golden Age of Estonian Art from the Enn Kunila Collection.

Exhibition at Mikkel Museum aids in discovery of new Konrad Mägi paintings

18 September marked the close of an exhibition of hitherto unseen works by Konrad Mägi at the Mikkel Museum of the Art Museum of Estonia. The brainchild of the Konrad Mägi Foundation, the exhibition was extremely well-received, drawing close to 11,000 visitors over three weeks. The exhibition of private collections and the publication of a new comprehensive work on Mägi have led to yet another welcomed result – in recent weeks, new Konrad Mägi paintings have been discovered in Estonia, Norway and Australia.

The exhibition introduced works from private collection never seen before by the public and familiar only from reproductions. Simultaneously with the exhibition, a voluminous album devoted to Mägi’s art was published. The work compiled by Eero Epner covers all of the artist’s known works. The album includes about 40 works previously unknown to the public and about 17 of them were on display at the exhibition.

“The exhibition of the unseen Mägi works was small in number but very large in content. The size was conferred by the voluminous and thorough album compiled by Epner. It is a nearly complete catalogue raisonné of the artist, characterized by a lively style and interdisciplinary approach. It clearly highlights the artist’s personality, the style of his works and values as a painter, and also the people, weather conditions and entire era that surrounded him,” said Mikkel Museum director Aleksandra Murre, in talking about impressions shared by exhibition goers.

The Konrad Mägi Foundation will continue the search for lost works, thanking everyone who has let them know about paintings in their possession and awaiting more information about hitherto unseen works at info@konradmagi.ee.

Hitherto unexhibited works by Konrad Mägi can be seen at Mikkel Museum, accompanied by a catalogue of the painter’s oeuvre

From 27 August to 18 September, the Mikkel Museum of the Art Museum of Estonia presents the exhibition Konrad Mägi. Unseen Paintings. Local art audiences will be treated to never-before-exhibited works by the early 20th century Estonian painter Konrad Mägi (1878–1925). Most of the works on view are sourced from private collections and a few are on loan from the collections of foreign museums. The exhibition is accompanied by a substantial album that introduces the entirety of Mägi’s known works.

Konrad Mägi. Saaremaa. 1913–1914. Estonian Museum Canada

Recent years have seen the discovery of several dozen Mägi works – in Estonia, Canada, Sweden and elsewhere – that the public had never seen in their original form and which are familiar only from reproductions. These unseen works represent nearly all of the artist’s creative periods, adding to our understanding of Mägi’s legacy.

Eero Epner, the most prominent contemporary Mägi scholar, who is one of the exhibition coordinators, describes the importance of the album in the context of local art history: “The newly discovered works, updated facts and the survey of his works, now consolidated into one publication, are a good foundation for building various interpretations and adding new information.”

“With this exhibition, we’re looking to emphasize the role of private collections as a repository for art and expanding our ideas of artists’ oeuvre. One of the coordinators of the exhibition, Mikkel Museum director Aleksandra Murre, said the new works would unlock a fuller understanding of Mägi. “The exhibition of Mägi paintings brought from private collections to public light as a culmination of a long research process gives art aficionados a chance to see the works in a museum environment, and tie them to the previously known works by the artist.”

The exhibition will run until 18 September. During the exhibition period, the museum will have longer opening hours than usual: Tuesday to Sunday, 10.00 to 20.00.

Coordinators: Eero Epner, Aleksandra Murre
Exhibition designer: Mari Kurismaa

The exhibition was made possible in collaboration between the Mikkel Museum (Art Museum of Estonia) and the Konrad Mägi Foundation.
More information: https://mikkelimuuseum.ekm.ee/en/syndmus/konrad-magi-unseen-paintings/


A Hitherto Unknown Work by Konrad Mägi Returned from Canada to Estonia

A hitherto unknown painting by Konrad Mägi arrived from Canada this week. The work belonging to the collection of the Väliseesti Muuseum (VEMU, Museum of Estonians Abroad) has been brought to Estonia for five years at the initiative of the Konrad Mägi Foundation. In Estonia, it will be cleaned, restored, and introduced to researchers and the public.

Saaremaa. 1913–1914. Oil on cardboard. Väliseesti Muuseum

The work originates from Konrad Mägi’s Saaremaa period (1913–1914), one of his most highly valued periods, and depicts Abaja Bay in Kihelkonna Parish. The work belonged to Laine Pant’s family. The family took the painting along when they fled from Estonia in 1944. The work journeyed through Germany to Toronto, where it hung for decades in Laine Pant’s flat. She bequeathed the painting to the Väliseesti Muuseum, which took possession of it after her death.

According to Enn Kunila, Chairman of the Board of the Konrad Mägi Foundation, he is overjoyed by the fact that several dozen of Konrad Mägi’s lost works have been successfully found in recent years. ‘It is my particularly great pleasure to bring a painting back to Estonia, which in its day has journeyed thousands of kilometres to the west,’ said Kunila. ‘Laine Pant’s family considered the painting so valuable that despite everything, they decided to take it with them as they fled. They kept it in their Toronto home in exemplary fashion for decades. Many thanks to them in retrospect.’ According to Kunila, the aim of the Konrad Mägi Foundation is to fix up the painting in every respect and thereafter to make it available to researchers and the public.

Piret Noorhani, Chief Archivist of the Väliseesti Muuseum, notes that this is the most valuable work of the VEMU art collection. ‘Laine Pant would no doubt rejoice together with us over the event that the painting that belonged to their family has returned to its homeland, where large numbers of art lovers can see it.’ Noorhani also hopes that Mägi’s painting will find a distinguished place in the exhibition rooms of VEMU’s new building when it returns to Canada.




The 143rd Anniversary of the Birth of Konrad Mägi was Commemorated at Otepää and Pühajärve

The 143rd anniversary of the birth of Konrad Mägi was commemorated on 1 November with the opening of stands marking locations where he painted in Otepää and at Lake Pühajärve.

Konrad Mägi visited Otepää in Southern Estonia on several occasions when he was summering at Lake Pühajärve (1918–1920). Mägi often painted Lake Pühajärve but he has also depicted the church at Otepää and the town’s streets. Existential tones became more prominent in Mägi’s oeuvre in this period. He perceived ever more tensions and sacredness in nature.

The works on the stands at Otepää and Lake Pühajärve are from the collections of the Art Museum of Estonia and Viinistu Art Museum, and similarly from the Estonian Students’ Society and from a private collection.

Otepää stand

Pühajärve stand

The stands were set up in cooperation with the Otepää Rural Municipal Government on the corner of the intersection of Valga Highway and Tehvandi põik near the National Geographic yellow frame, and near the GMP Pühajärve restaurant at the start of the beach promenade. Chairman of the Board of the Konrad Mägi Foundation Enn Kunila and the art historian Eero Epner spoke on site at the opening. Mayor of Otepää Rural Municipality Jaanus Barkala greeted attendees at the opening. The Otepää artist Reet Ohna also gave a speech. Kaidi Pajumaa, the director of creative matters for Otepää Kultuurikeskused [Otepää Cultural Centres], looked after the musical and verbal side of the opening, accompanied by Kristjan Luik on guitar.

The Konrad Mägi Foundation erects stands to commemorate those important places in the Estonian landscape where outstanding works were painted by the painter Konrad Mägi. Stands have already been opened in Kuressaare and Kihelkonna Rural Municipality in Saaremaa, and on Vilsandi Island.

Konrad Mägi’s biggest solo exhibition is being opened in Finland

Meditation (Lady in a Landscape). 1915–1916. Oil on canvas. Art Museum of Estonia

The exhibition Konrad Mägi – The Enigma of Painting is being opened at the EMMA museum in Espoo, Finland today, on 28 September.

Pilvi Kalhama, the director of the EMMA and the exhibition curator has written:

The exhibition presents a broad selection of works by Estonian pioneer of modernism Konrad Mägi (1878–1925). It includes a significant number of Mägi’s surviving paintings, some 150 works in all. In addition to landscapes, the show includes a selection of Mägi’s finest portraits.
Mägi created his first canvases in Åland, having previously studied in St Petersburg. He also briefly studied at the Ateneum in Helsinki. His later travels took him to France, Norway, Germany and Italy and back to Estonia. Mägi was a cosmopolitan who painted what he saw, felt and learned on his travels. He used different forms of expression freely, always using different ways to paint different natural scenes. Mägi differs from many of his contemporaries through his bold use of colour. The idiosyncratic Mägi has, in fact, no comparison in the history of European modernism. Today we are ready to include talents from the periphery to such accounts of the past, thereby widening our understanding of the art of modern era.
Nature was Mägi’s primary inspiration. It was a source of strength and a tool for exploring the potential of painting, the human condition and the mystery of life beyond visible reality. Instead of creating a likeness of the real world, Mägi focused on how to paint and how to express things that could only be communicated in painting. In his fascinating portraits, Mägi’s primary objective was to create a compelling painting. Mägi’s paintings forces portraiture out of the genre’s dusty cabinets.
It has been a pleasure to curate an exhibition that, for the first time and to this extent outside Estonia, showcases the uniqueness of Konrad Mägi’s art. The artist’s ties to Finland have also been a powerful motivator for making Mägi accessible to Finnish audiences.

The exhibition has been organised in partership with the Art Museum of Estonia. The works on display are from the collections of the Art Museum of Estonia, Tartu Art Museum, Under and Tuglas Literature Centre of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, Enn Kunila art collection and private collections.

Curator of the exhibition is Pilvi Kalhama, project managers are Pilvi Kalhama and Inka Laine, exhibition designer is Milla Rissanen. The marketing and advertising of the exhibition is supported by Konrad Mägi Foundation in cooperation with the media agency Inspired.

The exhibition Konrad Mägi – The Enigma of Painting will be open until 23 January 2022.

Finds from Norway

Konrad Mägi stayed in Norway from 1908 to 1910. It is precisely in Norway that he started painting intensely and also participated in his first exhibition. By now, several finds connected with Konrad Mägi’s stay in Norway have been discovered in Norwegian archives.

Translation of this article:

ÅSNES: Knut Larsson of the Åsnes Art Society asks the readers of Glåmdalen for help. An exhibition of works by 16 Estonian artists is being held at the Fjøset Gallery in Sønsterud on 9–23 November 1997. Fifteen of them are young artists who call themselves ‘Group Tartu’ and they have all studied at Konrad Mägi’s Studio in Tartu.

He lived in Eidskog. Konrad Mägi (1878-1925) is considered the most important Estonian painter. He was a teacher as well as the director of the art school that was established in Tartu in 1919. Prior to that, he had been on a study trip in Norway from August of 1908 to December of 1910, after which he proceeded to Paris. During his Norwegian period, he painted probably more than 110 oil paintings, most of them landscape views. Some of these landscapes were likely painted in our area in Eidskog, where Mägi spent one summer. He had an exhibition at the Blomqvist Gallery in Oslo in 1910 together with Christian Krohg and Leon Aurdal. There should be a total of around 20 paintings by Konrad Mägi in our area. Larsson hopes that the readers of Glåmdalen know some of them, and that it will prove to be possible to lend some of them for the exhibition in Sønsterud. These paintings are needed in a hurry because the Estonian exhibition will already be opened on Sunday, 9 November.


This announcement advertises Konrad Mägi’s exhibition in Oslo together with Christian Krohg and Leon Aurdal. Both were recognised Norwegian artists. Krohg was one of Norway’s best-known artists. He was the first professor at the Norwegian Academy of Art and a supporter of Edvard Munch. A monument has been erected to Krohg in Oslo’s city centre. Krohg had briefly come into contact with Konrad Mägi in Paris, where he had taught Mägi. That is evidently what led him to invite Mägi to participate in the exhibition. It is known that Mägi displayed 22 paintings at that exhibition, and that remained the largest exposition of his works outside of Estonia until 2017, when an exhibition of Mägi’s works was held in Rome.

Konrad Mägi’s addresses from the time when he lived in Oslo are listed in these Oslo address books.


Mareli Reinhold was awarded the Konrad Mägi Foundation Scholarship

The Konrad Mägi Foundation has commenced supporting researchers of older Estonian art. To this end, a scholarship has been established to support master’s or doctoral candidates who wish to scholastically study Estonian art history from the first half of the 20th century. The Estonian Academy of Arts master’s candidate Mareli Reinhold has been awarded the first scholarship. Reinhold’s research focuses on the activity of female Estonian artists between the two world wars.

The term of the scholarship is for the entire duration of her master’s studies and its amount is 600 euros per month. Everyone who wishes to study Estonian art history from the first half of the 20th century is welcome to approach the Foundation to apply for the scholarship. Scholarly studies of Konrad Mägi’s life and oeuvre are especially welcome.

The Estonian Academy of Arts greatly appreciates the Konrad Mägi Foundation’s initiative, which is an excellent example of cooperation between the public and private sectors in the field of the humanities. The emphasis in Estonia has hitherto been more on research grants in the fields of technology, information technology and economics. The Konrad Mägi Foundation’s initiative, however, convincingly demonstrates that a mature, multifaceted society functions successfully when culture and its interpretation are similarly valued and appreciated.

The Estonian Academy of Arts Institute of Art History and Visual Culture is especially proud of the fact that it is a master’s candidate in art history who has earned the Foundation’s first scholarship.

According to Chairman of the Board of the Konrad Mägi Foundation Enn Kunila, it is important to support researchers of older Estonian art. ‘Regrettably, there are less and less scholars who would be interested in the art of the first half of the 20th century in their research or as curators,’ says Kunila. ‘It is important to revive interest in this extraordinarily meaningful period of Estonian art history.’

Marianne Kõrver was awarded the Konrad Mägi Foundation Prize

The film director Marianne Kõrver earned this year’s Konrad Mägi Foundation Prize. Marianne Kõrver is the author of two biographical films on Konrad Mägi. The first of these films accompanied Konrad Mägi’s successful solo exhibition in Turin. The second, Art is the Only Way Out, premiered on the 142nd anniversary of Mägi’s birth on 1 November.
Regarding Kõrver, the Foundation’s Board highlights her engrossed and creative style of presentation, her focus on the intrinsic values of painting, and her accentuation of new ways of interpretation. The prize was awarded at the festive premiere of Konrad Mägi’s biographical film at Sõprus Cinema.
The Konrad Mägi Foundation Prize is intended to be awarded to a person or a collective that has done a great deal to present the work of Konrad Mägi (1878-1925), the most important painter in Estonian art history. Tõnis Saadoja, the designer of numerous exhibitions of Mägi’s works, earned the prize last year. The amount of the prize is 5,000 euros.



Premiere of the biographical film Art is the Only Way Out on the life of Konrad Mägi.

The biographical film Art is the Only Way Out on the life of Konrad Mägi premiered at Sõprus Cinema and on Estonian Television on 1 November.
The film director Marianne Kõrver’s documentary film tells of the life and work of the painter Konrad Mägi. According to the film’s author, what interested her most in creating this film was Mägi’s contradictory and at times inscrutable personality, different aspects of which carry over into his creative work as well. The passionate and self-destructive story of Mägi’s metaphysical quests and of a kind of mystique that surrounds both his life and his oeuvre provide the viewer with the opportunity to relate to his art in a very personal and viscerally appreciated way.
Tiina Abel, Tõnu Õnnepalu, Eha Komissarov, Veiko Õunpuu, Jaan Toomik, Hasso Krull, Lauri Sommer, Marek Tamm, Jaan Elken and Kristi Kongi open up on the broader background of Mägi’s oeuvre and on how they relate personally to the artist’s creative work.
The film’s premiere commemorated the 142nd anniversary of the birth of Konrad Mägi. The Konrad Mägi Foundation’s 5,000 euro award was given to the film’s director Marianne Kõrver for presenting the life and work of Konrad Mägi, the most important painter in Estonian art history, in Estonia and abroad in 2019-2020.

The film can be viewed HERE
The producer of the film is the Konrad Mägi Foundation.







An Exhibition of Konrad Mägi’s Works is about to be opened in Torino

The exhibition Konrad Mägi. Light of the North will be opened at the Musei Reali in Torino on Friday, 29 November. The President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid will open the exhibition.

This exhibition has been put together jointly by the Art Museum of Estonia, the Musei Reali and Konrad Mägi Foundation, and it comes at the same time as the passing of one hundred years since Mägi’s trip to Italy. The exposition consisting of more than fifty paintings, portraits and sketches is one of the largest solo exhibitions of this artist’s works in Europe. The works that will be displayed are from the collections of the Art Museum of Estonia and the Tartu Art Museum, the private collections of Enn Kunila and Peeter Värnik, and the art collection of the Estonian Students’ Society.

Konrad Mägi’s paintings were born from the artist’s intense and restless nature. Through the energised depiction of expressive landscapes that are sometimes dreamlike, the artist shows the fascination of the natural settings of the North to Europeans: the sky arching high above and cleaved by restless clouds and flashes of sunshine, lakelets, vast meadows and fields, and harsh shorelines.

Mägi is considered the father of modern Estonian painting and he has been compared to Vincent van Gogh and Alfred Sisley, in whose works similar bold use of colour and lighting effects can be found.

Without tying himself to any particular art movement, Mägi sailed on one current, then on another one, but ultimately always chose his own way. He loved nature and approached it as if it were someone sitting for a portrait, but also vice versa – his few painted portraits are much like paintings of nature that depict metaphysical and consecrated space. As an anarchist, eccentric, dreamer and idealist, Mägi is a unique artist in early 20th century Europe in terms of his style of painting and his way of life.

For Enrica Pagella, the director of Musei Reali, the exhibition Konrad Mägi. Light of the North is simultaneously a discovery and a challenge for the public. ‘On the one hand, we’re still introducing to them a relatively unknown artist and his world, which has been formed by experiences and contacts with Estonia, St. Petersburg, Paris and Rome. On the other hand, Mägi’s paintings present a real challenge to the viewer because his pictorial language is admittedly direct, but it contains symbols from different art trends starting with the art nouveau style and fauvism all the way to impressionism and expressionism. This has to be interpreted on the background of concrete personal sources of inspiration, like something that originates from a distant foreign country and only observes the customs of its own homeland,’ she discussed. She further said that Mägi is a painter who has added a separate chapter to Europe’s cultural history with his use of images, colour and light.

For Sirje Helme, the director of the Art Museum of Estonia, this exhibition is simultaneously recognition in retrospect as well as recouping in the context of European art history. ‘The great and meaningful interest of a reputable art institution in older Estonian art history should once more convince everyone that the concepts “periphery” and “centre” are quickly losing their meaning in European cultural history. The exceedingly sophisticated programme and very professional organisational side of Musei Reali place Mägi’s works in contexts where it was not possible to place them for a hundred years. This enriches both Estonian and European art history,’ said Helme.

A documentary film on Konrad Mägi created especially for this exhibition by the film director Marianne Kõrver can be watched at the exhibition.

The curator of the exhibition is Eero Epner, its designer is Tõnis Saadoja, and its graphic designer is Kätlin Tischler.

The exhibition Konrad Mägi. La Luce del Nord will be open to the public from 30 November 2019 to 8 March 2020.


Konrad Mägi 140

A conference and gala concert dedicated to the 140th anniversary of the birth of the painter Konrad Mägi (1878–1925), a great figure of Estonian art, were held on 1 November at the University of Tartu Assembly Hall. The organiser was the Konrad Mägi Foundation in cooperation with the City of Tartu.

After the conference presentations, conference participants jointly visited Konrad Mägi’s grave at Vana-Peetri Cemetery. Wreaths from the Tartu Municipal Government and the Konrad Mägi Foundation were placed at the grave and candles were lit.


Konrad Mägi’s onetime studio on Town Hall Square, where the Konrad Mägi Studio Society operates, was also visited.

A Quarter of a Million People in Paris Visited the Exhibition of Konrad Mägi, Kristjan Raud and Other Estonian Artists from the Era when Estonia Gained Independence

11 October 2018, Õhtuleht
Henry Linnard

The exhibition Free Spirits. Symbolism in the Art of the Baltic Countries was opened today at the Kumu Art Museum. The exhibition is a product of cooperation between the three Baltic states. It attracted 250,000 visitors from June to mid-September at the Orsay Museum in Paris. Nearly 150 works by significant artists from the art history of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from the end of the 19th century to the 1930s are on display at the exhibition. Among others, works by Kristjan Raud, Nikolai Triik, Konrad Mägi, Oskar Kallis, and many other great names of art are exhibited.

CATALOGUE: The exhibition is accompanied by a large catalogue in Estonian and English. This is the first comprehensive treatment of the symbolism of the Baltic countries, which is introduced by the essay Terra Incognita by Rodolphe Rapetti, one of the exhibition’s two curators. The catalogue additionally includes texts introducing the works displayed at the exhibition written by three art scholars from the Baltic states. (Erki Pärnaku)

‘The cooperation between our three countries has been exceedingly professional,’ Sirje Helme, the director of the Art Museum of Estonia, says in praise. ‘Putting together a major exhibition, where the content has to be argued out and priorities have to be set jointly, has gone smoothly and in a friendly manner,’ she adds. Helme describes the end of the 19th century and the outset of the 20th century as a highly important time for all three Baltic states. ‘This is not only because we gained our independence in 1918, but also because this was precisely the time when our professional art environment developed. It was like an immense soup cauldron from Russia across Europe all the way to Paris. That is also where our artists swam,’ she illustrates.

Helme considers the opening of this exhibition, which is part of the programme celebrating the centenary of the Republic of Estonia, at the Orsay Museum in Paris as the cherry that crowns the exposition. ‘Orsay is undoubtedly the preeminent museum for art from the 19th century and the early 20th century, not only from Europe but from all over the world. All who deal with this period keep its rhetoric well in mind. Orsay was very pleased with the numbers of visitors, which reached 250,000 visitors, and its media coverage in France was also exceedingly positive,’ is how she expressed her satisfaction. The exhibition was open in Paris until mid-September and now it has made its way to the Kumu Art Museum in Estonia, where it will be open until the start of February.


Distances are reduced

Jorma Sarv, head of the EV100 international programme, praises the Art Museum of Estonia for carrying through with one of the fundamental ideas that has been prioritised in preparing the entire jubilee programme. ‘The idea is to reduce to a minimum the mental distance separating those people who attend exhibitions in Paris, as happened with this beautiful exhibition, or in Rome or Washington from the exhibition visitor who strolls in Kadriorg Park,’ he explains. ‘This is an immense objective that has been brought to fruition with inspiring elegance. We witness this again and again. It’s wonderful and I think that its significance is only just starting to dawn on us,’ is his laudatory summation.

‘We have to admit to ourselves that it is one thing to tell Estonia’s story. This is important, but it is just as important to tell the story of the three Baltic countries and to this extent to be more in focus in Europe and to demonstrate those common features and differences. I’m very pleased that we have succeeded in this in some fields. The Art Museum is one of them,’ adds Sarv. The head of the EV100 international programme affirms that they will continue just as ambitiously and believes that the Art Museum has found many good friends for this purpose.

According to Liis Pählapuu, the curator of the exhibition, the title of the exhibition is Free Spirits because it very well characterises how young art enthusiasts came from simple farm families. ‘It is remarkable how young people who came from among rural folk went to study art outside of Estonia and then started studying and practicing art. This can be considered a miracle of sorts,’ finds Pählapuu. ‘That was their very courageous choice. They followed what their soul said to them,’ illustrates the curator of the exhibition.


Myths, the soul and nature

Pählapuu introduces the exposition through three themes that can be seen at the exhibition. The first of them introduces myths and legends of the Baltic countries. ‘The level of the stories and tales of the Baltic countries is exciting and personal. While Western artists have dealt in symbolism with very general themes related to human existence, the approach of artists in the Baltic countries was from the aspect of studying folk culture,’ she explains.
Concerning the second theme related to the soul, the curator says that here the various feelings of people have been observed. ‘From ecstatic exuberance to depression. This is inherent to the symbolism of that time and of decadence, its sub-form,’ says Pählapuu.

The third theme introduces the natural settings of the Baltic countries. ‘The way our artists have seen and interpreted nature is distinctive. They went as in depth in observing nature as Konrad Mägi did, for instance. This contact with nature is very mystical, deep and distinctive,’ finds the curator Pählapuu. ‘It is very fortunate that their art speaks to us nowadays as well. The fact that works of art created a century ago in a specific environment are expressive nowadays as well shows that a universal dimension has been achieved with these works.’

Kumu’s New Exhibition Focuses on Konrad Mägi’s Landscape Views

16 August 2018 ERR
Merit Maarits

An exhibition of Konrad Mägi’s (1878–1925) landscape views will be opened on Thursday, 23 August 2018 at 18:00 at the Kumu Art Museum. Over 40 paintings from the artist’s different creative periods will be on display. His works with dramatic, intense use of colour and sensitive perception of nature will be in focus.

Pühajärv Lake. 1918–1920. Oil, canvas. 52.7 × 68 cm. Author/source: Art Museum of Estonia

For Konrad Mägi, who grew up in Southern Estonia among primeval forests, painting nature was always an attempt to penetrate to the secretive and mysterious forces concealed in nature. Nature and painting nature provided nearly sacral experiences for him since, as an artist with an exceedingly sensitive nature, he continually sought contact with what was beyond reality.

‘There are two ways for how art could incorporate life,’ he once wrote. ‘The convenient way is the road of reason. The steep road that leads over chasms – that is the road of the soul, for which life is deep sleep and an agonising presentiment of different kinds of relationships, different kinds of profundities than the ones that our pitiable reason can penetrate.’

Konrad Mägi’s works already attracted very widespread attention during the artist’s lifetime. Although the display of his works was out of favour for some time in the Soviet era, he turned into a canonical artist of Estonian art history by the end of the 1970s. In recent years, the phenomenon of Mägi has started being appreciated in Western Europe as well: his solo exhibition has been held in Rome, and a selection of his works were exhibited at the Orsay Museum in Paris. Critics abroad have also highlighted Mägi’s uncommon perception of colour and his special relation to nature. The exposition at Kumu is not a retrospective nor does it include all the genres that Mägi cultivated, rather it focuses on his landscape views, beside which works completed on Capri, in Rome and Venice during his Italian period also come to the fore.


Symbolists of the Baltic countries arrive in Kumu from Paris

‘We consider Konrad Mägi to be the most spectacular colourist in art history, an independent creative spirit whose pantheistic view of nature towers over landscape painting, which is so beloved in Estonia. While he was enthusiastic about the creative freedom in art at the start of the century, he always remained sovereign in his creative work. He does not imitate anybody, rather he trusts only his instinct and perception. Konrad Mägi’s oeuvre is a partner in the ranks of the great masters of European modernism,’ said the head of the Art Museum of Estonia, Sirje Helme.

Konrad Mägi’s exhibition is being held as part of the international programme of the celebrations of the centenary of the Republic of Estonia, over the course of which more than 100 events will take place throughout the world during the centennial year. The Art Museum of Estonia’s programme of exhibitions abroad began last year with the start of Estonia’s presidency of the Council of the European Union, within the framework of which the exhibition of contemporary Estonian art Archaeology of the Screen reached the Bozar Art Centre in Brussels, and the major exhibition Konrad Mägi reached the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea through cooperation between the Art Museum of Estonia and the EV100 organising committee.

The cooperative exhibition Michel Sittow. An Estonian Painter in the Courts of Europe was opened at the National Gallery in Washington in January of this year and starting from 8 June, this exhibition can be viewed in the great hall of the Kumu Art Museum. The joint major exhibition of the Baltic states, Symbolism in the Art of the Baltic Countries was opened in April at the Orsay Museum in Paris, and this exhibition can be seen at Kumu in the latter half of 2018. The exhibition Archaeology of the Screen has been open since July.

The curator of the exhibition Konrad Mägi is Eero Epner, the exhibition’s coordinator is Liis Pählapuu, the designer of the exhibition is Tõnis Saadoja, and its graphic designer is Kätlin Tischler.

Konrad Mägi’s solo exhibition in Rome


Konrad Mägi’s solo exhibition was opened in Rome. In the photo: Sirje Helme (Chief Executive Officer of the Art Museum of Estonia) and Enn Kunila (Chairman of the Board of the Art Museum of Estonia Friends of Art Society).

The President of the Republic of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid opened a major exhibition of works by Konrad Mägi (1878-1925) on 9 October at the stately Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Rome. This is the largest exhibition of Konrad Mägi’s works of all time outside of Estonia. The best of Mägi’s landscape paintings is on display, including over 60 paintings and drawings. The paintings belong to the Art Museum of Estonia, the Tartu Art Museum, the Eesti Üliõpilaste Selts (Estonian Students’ Society), and Enn Kunila’s collection. The exhibition’s theme work of art is Konrad Mägi’s painting from 1913-1914, Maastik punase pilvega (Landscape with a Red Cloud).

“It is difficult to find a better ambassador for Estonian art and culture than Konrad Mägi. He reaches out to show – we are a part of Europe, we are one Europe. We have always been,” said President Kaljulaid at the opening of the exhibition.

Konrad Mägi is a well-known artist to the Estonian public, but he has yet to be written into European art history. For various reasons, it was impossible for decades to exhibit Mägi’s works to European viewers and for this reason, this exhibition is only the first opportunity to fill this gap. The paintings at the exhibition introduce all of Mägi’s more important creative periods from the years 1908–1925, revealing Mägi first and foremost as a painter who perceived nature as a metaphysical and sacral space. His powerfully colourful paintings do not see nature as a decorative object but rather as a mystical place where it is possible to experience the existence of parallel reality. For Mägi, who was interested in different religious and esoteric teachings, nature was the most important temple where he perceived something about which it was not possible to speak – it was only possible to paint. Few painters with this kind of perception of nature are known from European art of the outset of the 20th century who would have used such a distinctively different palette to reflect their experience. Although Mägi was familiar with all of the modern art trends and movements, he never developed into a follower of any one particular trend, rather he synthesised different experiences, including his own life experience and childhood in Estonia. This transformed Konrad Mägi into a European in Estonian art and an Estonian in European art.

Established in 1883, the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea is one of the most important museums in Rome, which has focused on 20th century modernism. Many of the great names of 19th and 20th century art like René Braque, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Vassily Kandinsky, Claude Monet, Amedeo Modigliani, Jackson Pollock, Auguste Rodin and Vincent Van Gogh are represented in the museum’s permanent exhibition. This exposition of Konrad Mägi’s works is the first time that Estonian art can be seen in the museum.

The curator of the exhibition is Eero Epner, its designer is Tõnis Saadoja and the graphic designer is Kätlin Tischler.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue in Italian and English that in addition to reproductions of all the paintings at the exhibition also includes analyses contributed by Estonian and Italian art historians. Along with the exhibition, the biography of Konrad Mägi written by Eero Epner that was published this autumn is being presented in English and Italian translations to the Italian art public. A colouring book in Italian and English has been produced for children with texts by Eero Epner and pictures by Jaan Rõõmus about and of Konrad Mägi’s paintings.

The exhibition that will remain open until 28 January 2018 is a part of the cultural programme of the centenary of the Republic of Estonia and of Estonia’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union. It has been organised by the Art Museum of Estonia in cooperation with the Estonian Embassy in Rome, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Estonia, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia.

In addition to the festive opening ceremony of Konrad Mägi’s solo exhibition at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, a press conference was held for journalists, a large number of which attended, and a presentation was also held of the new Konrad Mägi postage stamp designed by Lembit Lõhmus depicting Mägi’s painting Maastik punase pilvega (Landscape with a Red Cloud). On 10 October, President Kersti Kaljulaid visited three schools in Rome (Rome International School, Liceo Artistico “Enzo Rossi” and Liceo Artistico “Giulio Carlo Argan”) and gave as a gift to each school reproductions of Konrad Mägi’s painting Itaalia maastik. Rooma (Italian Landscape. Rome).