First for Estonian art as UK's Tate collection acquires Anu Põder work

Exhibition view from
Exhibition view from "Be Fragile! Be Brave!" at Pori Art Museum in 2019 (Photo: Dénes Farkas). Source: Anu Põder estate.

An art installation by late Anu Põder entitled 'Tongues (Activated version)' (1998) was accessed to the Tate Collection in the United Kingdom, ERR's culture portal reports, along with the original moulds and reproduction rights. 'Tongues' is the first artwork by an Estonian artist to be acquired by the Tate collection.

Purchasing the work was the culmination of the Tate Modern curators' systematic research, which started by mapping the post-war Estonian art along with curators meetings with artists and art historians in Estonia in past few years.

In July 2018, the Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center in cooperation with philanthropist initiative Outset Estonia hosted a delegation of curators and Tate Modern's Eastern European art collection acquisition committee.

Then, in 2019, at a gathering in London, the committee decided to accession Anu Põder's work to their collection. As a rule, acquisitions are publicly announced once a work has physically been handed over to the collection.

Tate acquired the edition of "Tongues" exhibited at the Baltic Triennial 13 in Vilnius, Lithuania in 2018, the original moulds, and the right to reproduce the work. That work is made out of soap accompanied by a tin bowl with water, and one artist made edition from 1998 belongs to the Art Museum of Estonia (EKM). Through the course of the whole process, the Tate's curators communicated with representatives of Anu Põder's estate.

Karin Laansoo from the Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center, who participated in the vote of the purchasing committee, said that the pleasure of the team of curators at the Tate Modern on acquiring the work for their collection was very clear. The fact of the inclusion of Põder's work at the Liverpool Biennale almost immediately after it arrived in the museum's collection is, rare and demonstrates what an important gap the artist's original approach fills in international art life, ERR's culture portal reports.

Anu Põder (1947-2013) was an Estonian sculptor and installation artist, whose work has become increasingly popular in the international art world over the past five years. Põder mainly used textiles, wax, plaster, soap, glue, plastic and wood in her work. She began actively participating in exhibitions in the late 1970s. Contrary to the general trend of bronze sculpting in the late Soviet era, Anu Põder experimented with the changing physical and cultural meanings of ephemeral materials. Anu Põder's work is based primarily on the artist's own life and both material and mental changes brought about by family life, the everyday life of the Soviet era and rapid changes in re-independent Estonia.

Recent exhibitions of Põder's work include a large retrospective exhibition "Anu Põder. Be Fragile! Be Brave!" curated by Rebeka Põldsam at the Kumu Art Museum in Tallinn in 2017, and an updated version of the same exhibition at the Pori Art Museum in Finland in 2019. In the summer of 2019, Anu Põder's exhibition "Space For My Body" was held at La Galerie Noisy-Le-Sec in Paris. Her work has been exhibited in group exhibitions in Vilnius, Berlin, Moscow and Vienna. "Tongues (Activated Version)", now part of Tate's collection, will be on display at the Liverpool Biennale on March 20, at the Tate Liverpool Museum.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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