Field of Flowers with a Little House

Field of Flowers with a Little House

1908–1910Oil on cardboard37.4 × 48.3 cmArt Museum of Estonia

Konrad Mägi depicted similar little wooden cottages on a flower-strewn field on a number of occasions. In Norway, these are a typical barn-like structure: a small outbuilding with modest architecture, constructed from basic building supplies. Mägi uses the barn as a neutral background to help the colourful general impression of the wildflowers to become more prominent.

Particularly in earlier periods, Mägi’s creative style was impulsive. We can assume that this work was painted on the spot, right in nature. Such a creative tactic was noteworthy not only in a specific art history context but also related to philosophical problems connected to the agency of the artist. By reducing the proportion of deliberate constructedness and increasing the share of impulsive reaction, the question comes up not only about the cultivation – whether consciously or not – of the myth of the romantic artist, where the artist senses his surroundings with extraordinary sensitivity and his artworks are the fruits of the emotional affect of genius, but also begs the broader question of how much subjective will is contained in the line of thought.

As a modernist artist, who established in Estonia the concept of an artist self autonomous from surrounding modern society, Mägi was also characterized by an awareness of individual urges and his treatment of such urges at least indirectly as raw fodder for artworks. Individualization of the worldview is something seen in Mägi’s take on religion, as he helped himself to bits from existing big narratives (Christianity, Hinduism, various esoteric traditions, theosophy, pantheism, etc.) and assembled them into his own syncretic quasi-religious worldview. Thus, Mägi’s artist self can be seen as a typically modern individualist author’s conception.