The works of two Estonian diaspora sculptors exhibited in Tallinn

A new exhibition called “Lost Estonian Sculptors: Linda Sõber and Endel Kübarsepp” will open in the Kumu Art Museum on 16 May.

The exhibition tells the story of two sculptors who graduated from the Pallas Art School – a former art school in Tartu, known for its distinguished alumni – and whose works are among Estonia’s sculptural classics of the 1930s.

Linda Sõber (1911-2004) and Endel Kübarsepp (1913-1972) became two of the most acclaimed and promising young sculptors in Estonia at the very start of their professional careers in the second half of the 1930s.

Sculptural classics

Their fame at home was short-lived, however, as the Second World War changed their lives. The sculptors, who were also a couple, left Estonia as refugees in 1944 and, until recently, information about their subsequent lives and activities had been fragmentary.

It is known that Kübarsepp also participated actively in exhibitions organised by exile artists during the post-war years in Germany.

At the end of the 1940s, the two sculptors went their separate ways – Sõber continued her life in Italy and Kübarsepp in the US. During the decades of the Soviet occupation, the work of both sculptors was ignored in Estonia, primarily for ideological reasons. But according to the Kumu Art Museum, their works are now considered to be among the Estonian sculptural classics of the 1930s.

In 2014, the exhibition organisers contacted the artists’ son, Toomas Kübarsepp, who confirmed his parents’ archives were preserved in San Remo, Italy. Subsequently, the organisers were able to digitise the photos, documents and correspondence that reflect the sculptors’ lives.

The exhibition includes 14 sculptures and a photo and video installation. In addition to the works by Sõber and Kübarsepp, the exhibition also includes portrait sculptures of both artists made by their teacher, Anton Starkopf, during their time at the Pallas Art School.

The exhibition will remain open until 9 December 2018.

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Cover: Anton Starkopf’s sculpture studio at Pallas Art School. From left: Endel Kübarsepp, Linda Sõber, Eduard Kutsar, Lydia Laas and Anton Starkopf (courtesy of the Art Museum of Estonia).

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About the author: Silver Tambur

Silver Tambur is the cofounder and Editor-in-Chief of Estonian World. He has previously studied journalism at the University of Tartu, and politics and society at the Birkbeck College, University of London. Silver has been the editor at the Estonian Public Broadcasting’s news service in English, as well as contributing for the Business Sense magazine in the UK, Deutsche Welle and Radio New Zealand. You can also follow him on Twitter and like his page on Facebook. You can write to Silver at silver@estonianworld.com.