FOLK GRAPHIC ARTS
Distinctive Lithuanian folk graphic art portion is made
of drawings - fretwork. Their flourishing period was 19th century, mainly
in Samogitia and for this reason they are called Samogitian fret works.
Even though they were popular ( hung on walls in houses, sometimes even
in granaries ), however, until now very few remain, because the paper on
which they were printed, due to its poor quality, fell into ruin. Museums
have few small fretwork collections. Folk drawings' subjects, like classic
paintings and sculptures, have come from Catholic iconographics ( Christ's
life and sufferings, also Virgin Mary's and Saints' ) and had concrete
prototypes, which were used by folk fretwork craftspeople. It is characteristic
that among Virgin Mary's portrayals of various miraculous places, have
obviously reached Lithuania through different pictures. From these traditional
folk art subjects diverge composite multi figure "Last Court" fretwork
and introduction of entire Lithuanian content "Commemorating Sobriety".
The latter appeared among folk art works, was due to bishop M.Valanèius'
request and lithographs were circulated throughout Lithuania ( in 19th
century this theme was especially pressing for battles for sobriety begun
under the leadership of bishop M. Valanèius.
Folk graphic arts stand out with their artistic peculiarities
: clear, logically balanced composition, decorative expressive line, monumentality,
harmony of background elements and plastic and color interaction of figures.
Some fret works, according to presented subject character are multi formed
from basic figure filling the center of the paper sheet and several miniatures,
which being finished and independent, originally explain the meaning of
the main composition, however, never deaden it ( "Pieta", "Christ between
tools of torture", "Christ and Apostles" ). Fret works were colored after
printing - for this reason there were several color variants of the same
subject, and some boards when warn down were refreted , each time either
adding or removing something - thus increasing variants of one iconographic
type. According to form, paper, wood and metal sheets were very different
- small ( 17by 16 and smaller ) , somewhat larger ( 40by30 ), and huge
( about 80by60 ). The latter were formed by joining several ( 4by6 ) boards,
printed and glued fret works.
There is little information about finding ancient fret
works, their prototypes and their creators. There is a possibility that
some of the fret works were created by woodworkers and sculptors. The best
known fret works are those of A.Vinkus, of which quite a few remain as
yet. There are very few biographical facts of other engraving masters (
T.& S.Jurevièius, S.Stefanov, K.Grigalauskas, S.Kuneika ) ,
but their works are better known. In 1921, publisher from Poland, Z.Lazarskis,
prepared an interesting and meaningful history of Lithuanian engravings,
published as "Teka dzreworytow ludowich dawnych", in which 66 fret works
were reprinted from old boards, 42 were from Samogitia ( whose boards were
purchased from Lithuania at the beginning of this century ).
Engravings were seen rarely when collecting folk art,
they immediately caught the attention of researchers and art experts as
items of great value. P.Galaunë, in 1927, organized the first engravings'
exhibit in Kaunas, created a catalog, later this exhibit
traveled to most European museums, where it received
much attention in every place. Unfortunately, natural folk engravings'
development process ended at the end of 19th and start of 20th centuries.
Differently than paintings, whose development was also naturally stopped
and which after the war was reborn as a new form, specifics remain as though
in the shadow of today's figurative folk art. Traditions were extended
most vividly by the works of R.Krasinkevièius, scenery creation
method, technology, coloring, line of decorative expression. Other notable
creators - O.Pusvaðkytë, M.Rinkûnaitë. During Soviet
times, the theme of folklore predominated in all folk art graphic subjects.
Now there is an attempt to undertake subjects pertaining to traditional
Attemps to renew ancient engraving traditions on a wider
dimension ( preparing seminars, exhibits, especially is worth mentioning
the retrospective of ancient fret works together with other works, prepared
by Lithuanian Folk Culture Certer in 1986 at the Kaunas M.K.Èiurlionis
Museum ), has not created any influence in the development of this art