In 2005, the Latvian Ministry of Culture and ABLV Bank signed a long-term contract in accordance with which ABLV Bank undertakes to invest a million lats, over the course of ten years, in the creation of the forthcoming Contemporary Art Museum’s collection, thus becoming a co-founder of this art collection of national significance art.
The works of art in the collection are chosen by a commission of international experts, led by ABLV Bank’s chairman of the board, Ernests Bernis. The experts include art critic and curator Helēna Demakova; the director of the Oslo cultural center KUNSLETNESHUS, curator Māreta Jaukkuri (Norway); contemporary art consultant and curator Norbert Weber (Germany); the director of KUMU Museum, curator and art historian Sirje Helme (Estonia); Vilnius Art Academy professor, art historian Raminta Jurenaite (Lithuania); the artistic director of the Russian Contemporary Art Center, Leonid Bazhanov (Russia); multimedia artist Raitis Šmits; art historian and Latvian Contemporary Art Center expert Ieva Astahovska; artist Leonards Laganovskis; and the Latvian National Museum of Art’s Contemporary Art Collection curator Astrīda Rogule.
The ABLV Bank collection includes paintings, photography, and sculptures.
Arterritory invited the chairman of the board at ABLV Bank, Ernests Bernis, and the director of the contemporary art program at the ABLV Charitable Foundation, Jeļena Budanceva, for a conversation about the principles guiding foundation of the ABLV Bank’s collection.
Anatans Sutkus, J. P. Sartre in Lithuania. Nida, 1965. Photograph, 40x50 cm
What are the criteria for compiling the ABLV Bank Contemporary Art Collection, and how do they differ from the collections of other banks (for instance, Swedbank)?
The ABLV Bank Contemporary Art Collection will be a part of the forthcoming Latvian Contemporary Art Museum’s collection. This means that the works included in the collection possess not just a high level of artistic quality, but also a specific historical context, concrete selection priorities, and a level of artistic recognition. In the end, this valuable collection will pass into the hands of the Latvian state and will be publicly available for all art lovers.
Māra Brašmane. Veldzējošs dzēriens kvass (The Refreshing Beverage Kvass). Photograph, 5/7 silver gelatin, 29x40 cm. 1972
Please briefly describe your collection—how many units does it contain, what art periods does it encompass, and what forms of expression are represented?
Right now the ABLV Bank Contemporary Art Collection has 124 works of art, including three engravings, 41 watercolors, 56 photographs, and 24 paintings. The collection includes works by fourteen artists from the Baltic region—ten Latvian artists, two Estonians, and two Lithuanians. All of these works were made after the Second World War, in accordance with the concept of the forthcoming museum collection. The oldest work is the master Lithuanian photographer Antanas Sutkus’s picture High School Pupils from Užupis, taken in Vilnius in 1958. The newest acquisition are sixteen photographs by Andrejs Grants from the series Around Latvia.
Imants Lancmanis, I The Pyramid of Revolution. Painting, canvas/oil, 89x115 cm. 2006–2009