On April 21, an art exhibition was opened at the Estonian Embassy in Riga, featuring the work of the renowned Estonian graphic artist Agathe Veeber (1901-1988). The exhibition will be open until the end of June and is available during embassy office hours. If you are interested, please contact the embassy in advance to arrange the exact time of your visit.
Agathe Veeber (née Kanto) was born in Tallinn on 23 February 1901. She had one sister, Auguste Rude (1899-1994), who later lived in Jūrmala-Melluži, Latvia. The sisters received a good education in Tallinn and Agathe also began her artistic studies at Ants Laikmaa’s studio school.
In 1933 Agathe Veeber started studying painting and graphic arts at the Pallas Higher Art School in Tartu, where her educators included such famous Estonian artists as Ado Vabbe, Nikolai Triik and Hando Mugasto. She graduated from Pallas in 1938, being one of the few female graphic artists among the students. Between 1938 and 1944, Veeber became widely recognised in Estonia as a graphic artist. Her predominantly black-and-white prints are filled with expressiveness, melancholy, spirituality and the static peace of still lifes; they demonstrate a special affinity for landscapes and animals. In her work, Veeber remained true to the graphic style she had learned at the Pallas Art School, and worked on perfecting it throughout her life. She was completely dedicated to the difficult artistic path she had chosen: printmaking.
Agathe Veeber left Estonia after Tallinn was heavily bombed by Soviet air forces in spring 1944. Having received a scholarship for studies at the school of higher graphic arts education in Vienna, she ended up in displaced persons camps in West Germany after the end of the World War II. In 1949, Veeber resettled to the United States, where she gradually established herself as a graphic artist. She lived in New Rochelle and from 1956 in New York, where she faithfully attended the opera and spent a lot of time in Central Park, frequently visiting the zoo. Veeber’s work in the American period pivoted toward the theme of hard-won freedom, philosophical and ethical issues became increasingly important to her. Her creation was often reviewed favourably and perhaps the greatest recognition for the artist was the inclusion of her woodcut Angel (1961) in a large exhibition of American art that travelled throughout different continents. While being actively engaged in the art scene of her new homeland, Veeber also continued to be connected to the Estonian exile community and participated in the Estonian art life abroad.
The correspondence between Agathe Veeber in New York and her sister Auguste Rude in Latvia resumed in 1956 and continued for the next 30 years. In the summer of 1971, Veeber visited Estonia, and donated some of her engravings to Estonian Arts Museum. In 1982, her solo exhibition was one of the first exhibitions of Exile art in Estonia during the Soviet era. Artist was very pleased by the warm welcome she received in her homeland. Agathe Veeber died in New York on 8 April 1988 and a year later, she was formally laid to rest in the Rahumäe Cemetery in Tallinn. An important addition to the state and private collections was her artistic bequest, which arrived in Estonia in 2016. From December 2018 till May 2019, a large personal exhibition Agathe Veeber. Well-known, but still Unkown Estonian Printmaker was held at the Kumu Arts Museum in Tallinn.
Veeber’s uneasing aspirations for education and the development of her talent produced a beautiful and significant result. Working until a ripe old age, she continued to deal with the themes of spirituality and passion, by expressing inner reflection, longing and the bitter-sweet pain of loss. Having participated for 50 years in Estonian art life, Agathe Veeber was a part of the multifaceted and dispersed body of Estonian art in exile, and is a classic of Estonian culture.