Madis Kasemaa

Aleksander Vardi “Under the Paris Sky II”

From 22 February to 9 April, the University of Tartu Museum hosts an exhibition of the works of Aleksander Vardi, “Under the Paris Sky II”. The temporary exhibition gives an overview of the artist’s creative career spanning over sixty years, presenting artworks from the Art Museum of Estonia and Tartu Art Museum, as well as private collections.

The exhibition was authored by art historian Krista Piirimäe and supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.

Traces of hard times

Aleksander Vardi (Bergman until 1940) was born on 4 September 1901 in Tartu and died on 18 June 1983. Vardi’s creative career coincided with the most tragic period in Estonian history; his masterpieces reflect changes in Estonian and West European art.

As a student of the Pallas Art School (1919–1925), he was inspired by the expressionism of his teacher Konrad Mägi and the futurism of Ado Vabbe and other styles of the period. Impressionism, which saw its revival in Paris in the 1930s, was best suited to his sensitive, artistic nature. The most beautiful examples of Vardi’s impressionist work date from the second half of the 1930s and include paintings done in Paris. However, the period of occupation that followed left a harsh seal of sadness and social realism on Vardi’s brilliant impressionism. After being expelled from the Artists’ Association, he worked as a set designer at the Vanemuine Theatre in Tartu from 1950–1956.

New upturn

A new upturn in Vardi’s art, and more generally in Tartu’s art scene, started in the mid-1950s. In 1958, Vardi and some young progressively minded artists began experimenting with abstractionism. His works of the 1970s mainly included large floral paintings.

Besides his high-quality and productive creative work, Aleksander Vardi was an esteemed lecturer at the Pallas Art School in Tartu (1934–1944) and the State Art Institute in Tallinn (1944–1950), where he became a professor in 1947.


Physical access

  • The exhibition is on the third floor of the University of Tartu Museum and is accessible by lift.
  • The exhibition hall is spacious enough for wheelchair access.
  • The exhibition hall has several chairs and benches for visitors to sit and rest. The chairs can be rearranged in the hall.

Light and sound

  • The lighting in the room is set at a rather dim level to ensure the best conditions to preserve the displayed works. The luminaires are activated by a motion sensor.
  • The exhibition texts are in white on a dark background or in dark on a light background, which makes them clearly legible.
  • In one corner, one can view fragments from a 1971 documentary with a soundtrack.

Read more about accessibility in the building.

Exhibition team

Author: Krista Piirimäe

Copy-editing and translation: Sirje Toomla, Refiner Translations OÜ

Designer: Maarja Roosi, University of Tartu Press

Poster designer: Karin Leies, Tartu Art School

Print and design: Raamikoda, Salibar, University of Tartu Press

Team: Anne Arus, Karoliina Kalda, Tanel Nõmmik, Kristiina Ribelus

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