Off-shaped Latvian Coin Honours Modernist Artist Niklavs Strunke

22 Jul 2019  Mon

Latvia released a new odd-shaped silver Proof collector coin to celebrate the life and works of the legendary modernist artist Niklavs Strunke (1894–1966). Produced at the Mint of Lithuania, Vilnius, and designed by Paulis Liepa, the coin has a circular edge on one side with a diameter of 32 millimetres while the other side has a slanting edge at 99° angle. The obverse design recreates a part of a 1921 painting called "Self-Portrait with a Doll" by Niklavs Strunke, showcasing two levels of textures. Other inscriptions on this side include the texts, NIKLAVS STRUNKE, 2019 and LATVIJA. The reverse design recreates a 1927 painting called "Man Entering a Room" with four levels of textures to achieve the desired effect, along with an inscription that reads 5 EURO. The original painting is a part of the Latvian Cultural Canon. The 20 grams .925 Silver Proof coin has a dimension of 23 x 35 millimetres and a mintage limit of 4,000 pieces.

Niklavs Strunke was born in Gostynin, Poland and studied at the School of the Imperial Society for the Encouragement of the Arts in St. Petersburg. He was influenced by works of Russian Modernists when he studied his craft at Art Studio of Mikhail Bernstein. Jazeps Grosvalds (1891–1920) was the greatest Latvian Modernist in those days, whom Strunke met during World War I. He started exhibiting his works from 1914 and went on to become a noted modernist. Many of his works from the mid-1920s were inspired by Cubism, Art Deco, 13th–15th-century Italian paintings, eastern miniature paintings and Latvian ethnography.

Strunke discovered his unique style in Germany and Italy. Some of his works were showcased at the Great Berlin Art Exhibition in 1923 and he also organised a solo exhibition in Rome in 1924. Here, he interacted with local artists. Towards the end of that decade, he started using conservatism in his paintings. In 1933, Strunke received the Latvian Order of the Three Stars (Fourth Class). He shifted to Sweden after World War II. Towards the end, his works from Stockholm and Italy followed the theme of exile. On 13th October 1966, the great painter, stage designer and graphic artist breathed his last in Rome and his fatal remains were buried in Lazio.

Image Courtesy: The Bank of Latvia

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