Dora Gordine “Sculptor, Artist, Designer” Adamson-Eric Museum, Tallinn April 14 – August 12 2012
Artist of Jewish origin, Dora Gordine (aka Gordin and Gordina, 1895 – 1991) is unique not just as one of the first woman sculptors of global significance, or because the villa she designed – Dorich House – is an important architectural landmark (currently owned by Kingston University), but rather due to her ability to survive in a complicated time with charm, wisdom and passion, following the sweeping and sometimes bleak twists of fate while retaining a feminine veil of mystery and enigma.
Dorich House in London
Dora Gordine with her husband at their London home. Around 1938
The Adamson-Eric Museum in Tallinn is hosting an ambitious exhibition of Dora Gordine’s work until August 5, a chance for Estonia to celebrate the artist’s affiliation with Tallinn and her role in local cultural history. Dora Gordine was born in Liepaja, Latvia, but moved to Tallinn with her family as a teenager, launching her creative career there. Here, she made her debut as an artist, taking part in an Estonian Art Society exhibition in 1917. A few years later, Dora relocated to Paris to study music and art. It was here, in the vibrant cultural environment of salons and galleries, that she developed her sculptural vision, in which music and sculpture embody a joint language of rhythm and expression. In later years, the artist moved to England, where she spent the rest of her life, except for short periods living in Singapore and Malaysia. Gordine continued to play an active role in the art world, taking part in exhibitions, and in 1828 the Leicester Galleries in London organized a solo show, bringing huge success – all the displayed works were sold, and the artist took a position among the world’s most well-known sculptors, mostly represented by men at the time.
Dyak / Man / Headhunter. 1931–1932. Dorich House Museum
Balinese Girl. C. 1934–1935. Dorich House Museum
The exhibition on view in Tallinn has travelled from London, and is the result of a decades-long collaboration between international art historians. The Dorich House Museum has sent 14 outstanding Art Deco bronze sculptures, as well as a rich photographic collection illustrating the artist’s work, life and home, which has since become a kind of monument to the talented Gordine, who had the ability to transform her creative work into a way of thinking and living. In an interview to the BBC in 1972, Dora Gordine said: “When you do portrait busts of somebody you do their noses and mouth - but it is nothing. You have to imagine what they are like inside and bring out their inner feeling and then put it in a form.”
Chinese Head / Chinaman / Chinese Philosopher. 1926. Dorich House Museum
Male Torso / Walking Male Torso. 1927. Dorich House Museum
Dora Gordine was a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors and worked actively up to the 1970s. The exhibition in Tallinn was created by art historians Professor Frank Lloyd and Dr. Jonathan Black with the curator of the Dorich House Museum Brenda Martin. The exhibition design was developed by Inga Heamägi.
Guadeloupe Head / Negress. 1926–1928. Dorich House Museum
Dora Gordine, at work on the portrait of an Arab princess (Madame Etdal Wahba). Around 1949. In the Dorich House modelling studio, London. Her husband Richard Hare is working in the background. Dorich House Museum
On June 1, the KUMU museum in Tallinn will host a conference– “A Modernist Woman in Art: Dora Gordine and Her Time”, with the participation of art historians from Estonia, Finland and the United Kingdom.
 Dorich House was the studio home of Dora Gordine, where she lived with her husband Richard Gilbert Hare (1907-1966), an Irish aristocrat and professor of Russian cultural history. The high-class villa, built in 1936, has retained the features of its age and many antiques hinting at the interests and hobbies of its occupants. Today, Dorich House is a museum belonging to Kingston University.Take a virtual tour of the floors of the house here.