Jaan Manitski's large and diverse private art collection provides an interesting overview of Estonian art history while offering also the opportunity to peek into the world of personal taste of one particular collector
Jaan Manitski bought his first painting in Estonia in 1991. It was Jüri Arrak's painting "Red Flight" with its strong political undertone.
Welcome to Viinistu - home of the first and only public private art museum in Estonia. With its unique atmosphere and location, Viinistu Art Museum has been a favourite for visitors of all ages and backgrounds since its opening in the summer of 2002.
Jaan Manitski is a well-known politician and entrepreneur who was born in Estonia, but had to seek refuge during World War II in Sweden where he lived for 46 years. He returned to his home village Viinistu in 1989. At around the same time he started taking interest in Estonian art. Since opening the museum his collection has grown from 300 to over 1000 art works and it's still constantly expanding.
In 2012, architects Emil Urbel and Ainar Luik designed an expansion of the museum's premises, and in 2020 a renewed exhibition of Jaan Manitski's art collection was opened.
After a familiarization with the collection of Jaan Manitski, which includes the works of Estonian artists from Baltic-German area to the present day, the curators found that 7 major themes were drawn from the collection, some based on genre and on motif or approach.
The prologue to the exhibition is the creation of local Baltic-German artists, followed by the first Estonian artists Amandus Adamson, Johann Köler and August Weizenberg. It is probably not surprising that the selection of themes includes landscape, nude and portrait, which are classic genres of painting. However, the bold juxtaposition of works from different eras gives a refreshing view to the observer. A separate room is dedicated to the diverse work of Eduard Wiiralt, one of Estonia's most prominent graphic artists. More narrative nature gives the contrast between the idyllic and difficult times and the subject of mythology that offers several possibilities of interpretation, in which works with a certain religious aura deserve special emphasis. As for the contemporary art of the exhibition, the artists' desire to create parallel realities in the form of fantasy landscapes emerges. A social critical position with a dose of irony can also be found.