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The Start of Modernism
If not for the fundamental changes brought on by the 20th and 21st Congresses of the Soviet Communist Party, the applied arts would not have experienced the renaissance of recent years [...] Indeed, where would the applied arts be without the grandiose construction of residential buildings in our country, if millions of Soviet people would not have received new apartments, if we had not taken care of the domestic lives of Soviet people? It goes without saying that the decorative arts could never have developed at such a pace.  Декоративное искусство СССР, 1961, Nr. 6, p. 4–5. 
An artistic foundation will bring spirituality to work, enhance everyday life, and refine man. USSR Communist Party Platform
When did the process of modernism begin in the Soviet applied arts? Paradoxically, it is difficult to define a firm boundary that marks a change in the aesthetical understanding that resulted in the appearance of innovative ceramics, textiles, glass and interior furnishings. Moreover, despite the ideologization of art, Lithuanian artists created works of art throughout the Stalinist period not only for official audiences, but also for themselves – fostering the values they had learned as students. Later, such works as the tasteful ceramic vases created by Liudvikas Strolis and Jonas Mikėnas, glass pieces by Stasys Ušinskas, and the post-war woven carpets of Juozas Balčikonis would be taken from personal collections and exhibited as proof of artistic resistance against the oppression of the ruling regime.
Browsing through the pages of the first editions of Декоративное искусство СССР Decorative Arts of the USSRДекоративное искусство СССР (Decorative Arts of the USSR) was a magazine devoted to the applied arts and design that, even under harsh censorship, published articles not only about Soviet applied arts and design, but also about trends in Western avant-garde art, design and architecture. The first, experimental edition was published in 1957, and the magazine continued to run periodically from 1958 to 1993. In 2012 the publication was revived by the Russian and CIS Modern Art Fund "Artprojekt" simply as Декоративное искусство (Decorative Arts) (full official name: Декоративное искусство стран СНГ (Decorative Arts of the CIS countries). (Decorative Arts of the USSR), first published in 1957, we would be surprised by the innovative spirit emanating from a magazine that had become the standard bearer of a new style. When did the rational, aesthetically pleasing form promoted by this magazine become the norm?
Usually, historical and political events are the basis for establishing the start of a new era. It is very likely that the inner desire for a more innovative artistic environment began forming during the peak years of the so-called Stalinist triumphalist period. However, the actual opportunity for change came later, after the fall of the Stalinist regime and with the liberalization of Soviet political life. It was then that the Communist Party published its famous decrees on "architectural ornamentation" (in a 1955 decree entitled "Removal of excesses in design and construction"), which led to a deluge of critique of so-called façade architecture Façade architectureFaçade architecture was a construction and building trend that emphasised excessively decorative façade elements that had little to do with a building's structure, incorporating elements such as columns, pediments, cornices, towers and balconies. This trend was prevalent in 19th and 20th century periods (during the Stalinist regime in the Soviet Union, and in the immediate post-war years in Lithuania) that emphasised the ideological and representational roles of architecture., and the purposeful development of a new aesthetic in the art world.
Creators of applied art became part of the push for the modernization of domestic life, while their political overseers took up the slogan "art for domestic life." Appealing, familiar objects and an aesthetically pleasing everyday life became essential for a country that had healed the wounds of war. For the first time since the war on a national scale, Soviet functionaries began viewing the people's everyday surroundings as a determining factor of their quality of life and a critical piece of personal development.
There then followed a series of well-known historical events. The 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party in 1956 condemned Stalin's cult of personality and established guidelines for the modernization of society. Positive trends in the applied arts were initiated by the First Congress of Soviet Artists in Moscow in 1957, which criticized the previous Stalinist culture and issued new challenges for the art world. The famous Soviet applied art historian Alexander Saltykov (1900-1958) addressed the Congress in a report entitled "On Decorative Art," in which he criticized the flawed "view of decorative art from the perspective of the fine arts." An exhibition of applied art (with the participation of 19 Lithuanian artists) was organized to coincide with the Congress.
Nikita Khrushchev's reforms have been referred to historically as the "thaw" period, a term borrowed from Ilya Ehrenburg's Ilya EhrenburgIlya Ehrenburg (1891–1967) was a Russian writer and poet. During World War II, Ehrenburg worked as a journalist and served as an author of official propaganda for the headquarters of the 3rd Byelorussian Front, becoming famous for his appeals that fuelled the genocide of civilians in Soviet-occupied Königsberg. 1954 novel The Thaw.
Architecture was first to liberate itself from the historical pomposity of the Stalinist era. After the decrees adopted in Moscow between 1954 and 1957 to expand urban boundaries and begin construction of concrete-paneled residential buildings, the village of Novye Cheryomushki, near Moscow, transformed into one large construction site in 1958, becoming the first area to see the "block" housing neighborhoods that would spread throughout the Soviet Union. The first concrete-paneled five-story apartment buildings, called "Khrushchyovkas", were constructed in Vilnius in 1959. Once the block-style building boom began in earnest and the urgent need for cheap furnishings arose, a new battle began over the aesthetics of domestic life.
Propaganda espousing a new, modern lifestyle found fertile ground in the ideas of scientific and technical progress, the post-war recovery in Soviet industry, and the developing space program. Official propaganda was accompanied by a cult of youth, enthusiasm and dynamism. As censorship eased and the "Iron Curtain" parted slightly, society embraced feelings of spiritual revival and openness to new ideas.
Abroad: "An invasion of innovation"
The enthusiasm felt by post-war Lithuanian artists was not merely a local phenomenon. Having healed their war wounds, European nations rose to greet a new life. A wave of celebrations and festivals swept Europe in the 1950s. Particularly popular were world youth and student festivals Student festivalsThe first youth and student festivals were international gatherings of young people organised by the left-leaning World Democratic Youth Federation (est. in 1945 with headquarters in Budapest). The first Youth and Student Festival took place in Prague in 1947, and was then held subsequently in the other countries of the socialist bloc: Budapest (1949), East Berlin (1951), Bucharest (1953), Warsaw (1955) and Moscow (1957). Organisers of the first festivals promoted ideals of peace, national liberation from colonial rule and other political topics. The first such festival was organised in a capitalist country in 1955, in Vienna, and later in Helsinki in 1962. To this day, festivals have been regularly organised every few years in different countries around the world, with the most recent gathering taking place in Pretoria, South Africa, in 2010. featuring a whole host of artistic events (including art exhibitions).
The Festival of Britain, an enormous exhibition of science, industry, technology, and art organized by the government of the United Kingdom in 1951, received considerable international attention. British people and foreign tourists were enamored with the modern, expressively decorated festival pavilions that were placed throughout the country. The pavilions housed exhibitions on architecture, art, and design, and helped to disseminate a new, modern, and colorful style throughout Europe. Lithuanian artists saw images of local interpretations of this style on the pages of foreign magazines and in the decorative artistic works displayed in socialist countries they were able to visit thanks to an easing of travel restrictions through the Iron Curtain. The design of the 6th World Youth and Student Festival in Moscow, with participants from 131 countries, also relied heavily on the new "festival" style. Lithuanian applied arts enthusiasts also participated in an exhibition of young artists from the USSR organized during the festival.
How did the applied arts develop in other countries? Poles referred to the period of revival in the applied arts beginning in the mid-1950s as an "invasion of innovation" in their country. In Poland, as in the other countries of the socialist bloc, artistic life in the Stalinist years had been strictly controlled by various governmental institutions. Reforms in applied arts in the first post-war decades in Poland were pursued under the slogan "Art for Industry." Polish artists, like their colleagues in neighboring countries, had to face the challenge of adapting to the socialist realist style, characterized by a combination of historicism and stylized folk art. Forcibly separated from the artistic innovations of the free world, Poles (like Czechs, Slovaks and Hungarians) felt a huge draw to modernism.
The breakthrough in artistic modernism has been described by Polish art critic Bożena Kowalska as "heroic innovation," emphasizing the movement's initial immaturity and the politically approved pursuit to overcome the declarative and didactic nature of socialist realist art. Polish critics were convinced that the experiences of society and the impressive advancements in science and technology created opportunities for every citizen to live in a more pleasing environment. Jerzy Hryniewiecki, „Krztałt przyszłości“, Projekt, 1956, No 1. More and more artistic journals from socialist countries began reaching Lithuania in the 1950s, including: Poland's Sztuka and Przegląnd artystyczny (both established since 1946), Výtvarné umeëni from Czechoslovakia, Arta from Romania, Izkustvo from Bulgaria (all beginning publication in 1951), the German Bildende Kunst (started in 1953) and Neue Werbung (est. 1955), Hungary's Müvészet (est. 1960) and others. These journals were first available in libraries and, later, in the "Draugystė" chain of bookstores featuring works from socialist countries, as well as on a subscription basis.
A wave of brutalism BrutalismBrutalism and neobrutalism were architectural movements of the late modernist period. Brutalism's proponents emphasised the architectonics of geometrical spaces, refrained from hiding engineering features, and endeavoured to display the natural qualities and rough beauty of various construction materials such as concrete, brick, wood and glass. The movement began in Great Britain in the 1950s and later spread to Western Europe, the United States and Japan. began sweeping Great Britain in the 1950s, directed against functionalism's emphasis on the uniformity of materials. Strains of functionalism developed in post-war Europe and America, founded on the prevailing traditions of modernism and local aesthetic needs. For Lithuania, the preferable model was the reserved architecture and design of Scandinavia, particularly Finland, which focused on the natural environment and on centuries-old artisanal traditions.
Important changes in ceramics, textiles, glass and jewelry took place around the world following the Second World War. New trends in applied art and new artistic movements began forming in the United States, which had become the center of artistic life while the war raged in Europe, but the Old World soon held it's own. The prestige of the applied arts was advanced by such famous European modernists as Pablo Picasso, Fernard Léger, Le Corbusier, Jean Lurçat, Joan Miró, and others who expanded the field of artistic methods that encouraged the convergence of the fine and applied arts. The development of ceramic art was given new momentum by the International Academy of Ceramics, established in Geneva in 1952, which organized exhibitions, conferences and symposiums. Interest in artistic glasswork increased. A project initiated around 1955 by the Italian glassmaker Egidio Costantini (1912–2007) to include famous artists (Picasso, Max Ernst, Alexander Calder, Oskar Kokoschka, Hans Arp, Joan Miró, Alberto Giacometti, Gino Severini and others) in the design of glass pieces gave new impetus to the development of artistic glasswork.
The Centre Internationale de la Tapisserie Ancienne et Moderne (International Centre of Ancient and Modern Tapestry TapestryTapestry (tapisserie, French for "wall decor") is a term used in some countries to refer to unique textile works and compositions created using various techniques. Recently, the word "tapiserija" [tah-pih-SER-ee-ya] has been used in Lithuania as a synonym for the more common term "gobelenas" [goh-beh-LEH-nas]). Occasional exhibitions of individual fields of applied art (ceramics, textiles, jewellery) began to take place around the world starting in the 1960s, becoming an important stimulus for their further development.), established in 1961 in the Swiss town of Lausanne, contributed to a revival of textile arts. In 1962, the Centre began organizing international tapestry biennials that introduced conceptuality, three-dimensional fluidity and non-traditional materials into textile art. Occasional exhibitions of individual fields of applied art (ceramics, textiles, jewelry) began to take place around the world starting in the 1960s, becoming an important stimulus for their further development.
Clearly, applied arts in Europe and around the world experienced an extremely active period of organizational and artistic exploration following the Second World War. The role of shaping the material environment was taken over by a rapidly developing design world employing new technologies. At the same time, applied artists now had the opportunity to immerse themselves in artistic and technological experimentation in search of original ideas and expressive and effectual forms, much like their colleagues in the fine arts. Artists working in ceramics, textiles, glass, jewellery, and other fields of applied art became part of the general process of artistic development and were influenced by the trends of the late modernist period. Changes in Western applied art became evident in the 1950s, while in the Soviet Union (and Lithuania), they appeared a good decade later, and in a more reserved tone.
Theoretical discussion of the "beauty of objects"
For a time, the issue of any kind of conflict between individual creative pursuits and the industrial production of objects did not arise in a Soviet Union exhausted from the shortages of the post-war period. Quite the opposite: cooperation between artists and industry was encouraged. Discussion of design, as a concept, was still a few years away. Artistic work was classified into two types: that suitable for representational exhibitions, and works that were more fitting for mass industrial production.
What were the traits considered to be most representative of applied artwork and the decorative creations that were to surround the Soviet citizen in his or her daily life? One Lithuanian publication, titled Taikomoji dekoratyvinė dailė Taikomoji dekoratyvinė dailėTaikomoji dekoratyvinė dailė was published in several albums to showcase the most important applied art creations, examples of architectural art and, in the first editions (1965, 1969) – works by leading designers. Four albums were published in total: Taikomoji-dekoratyvinė dailė. Keramika, tekstilė, interjeras, baldai, metalas, gintaras, oda, stiklas (Applied Decorative Art. Ceramics, Textiles, Interiors, Furniture, Metal, Amber, Leather, Glass), compiled by S. Pinkus with a foreword by T. Adomonis and S. Pinkus. Vilnius, 1965; Taikomoji-dekoratyvinė dailė, compiled by J. Adomonis, foreword by S. Pinkus. Vilnius, 1969; Taikomoji-dekoratyvinė dailė, compilation and foreword by J. Adomonis. Vilnius, 1972; and Taikomoji-dekoratyvinė dailė, compilation and foreword by L. L. Cieškaitė-Brėdikienė. Vilnius, 1980.  (Applied Decorative Art), launched in 1965, sought to provide an answer to this question. In 1965, a book entitled Daiktų grožis (The Beauty of Objects), by Lithuanian Communist party and cultural activist Lionginas Šepetys sought to provide an overview of experience with the new style, and soon became a theoretical roadmap for the remaking of Soviet society's environment. The discussions contained in the book reflected the "thaw era's" Soviet aesthetic criteria for works of decorative art.
These new criteria had already been under discussion for the greater part of a decade in the Soviet popular and cultural press. The applied arts were included in the Soviet educational program for institutions of higher learning for the first time in 1956, as part of instruction in Marxist-Leninist aesthetics. Marxist-Leninist aestheticsMarxist-Leninist aesthetics was an ideologically driven theory of aesthetics founded on historical materialism, Vladimir Lenin's idea of art as a reflection of reality, and party and "popular" doctrine. The theory emphasised the significance of realism and the integral unity of form and content. The worldviews of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and, later, Vladimir Lenin, formed the core of Marxist-Leninist aesthetics teaching. In seeking to determine applied art's proper place within the context of all other fields of art, Soviet art theoreticians and aestheticians (including Alexander Saltykov, Andrei Burov, Viktor Vanslov, Moisey Kagan, and Nikolai Voronov) engaged in heated debates in the late 1950s about the features of applied art.
They referred to modern applied artwork rather obliquely as the "new" style, naming "the culture of form" as its most unique characteristic and defining it as encompassing objects created with minimalist means free from the clutter of excessive embellishments. Soviet art theoreticians made no mention of the style's international roots, however they did promote the democratic criteria of beauty characteristic of functionalism: simple, succinct contours, slim lines, natural materials and uncomplicated production.
One of the most debated issues related to applied art was its relationship to abstract art. Displays of abstractionism in painting and sculpture were the object of the most severe criticism, yet, in order to explain the existence of stylization in the decorative arts, justification had to be found for the reasons behind non-realistic imagery. Many different positions were put forward. Perhaps the strongest argument appealed to abstract art's connection to ornamentation, an integral part of decorative art. Soviet theoreticians argued that abstract forms (and ornamentation) in the applied arts were rooted in prehistory, i.e. before the birth of abstract art. For this reason, notional forms in decorative art were natural, even meaningful, phenomena because they stimulated associative and socially relevant imagery in the mind of the viewer.
Functionalist works of art did not, however, have any national character. Not incidentally, the term "internationalist" was used as a synonym for this style. This fact contradicted the "popular" nature of art espoused by Soviet ideologists. In seeking to give Soviet applied art a certain unique identity, artists were encouraged to promote its national character and explore interpretations of folk art. Theoreticians seeking to explain the modernist period did not, however, express an altogether unequivocal view of folk art's relationship with professional art. Artists were encouraged to learn from the simplicity and functionality of forms found in folk art, but were also cautioned against the dangers of blindly following or borrowing directly from folk art forms.
Nevertheless, the propaganda promoting national ethnic identity had a positive effect on the general intellectual atmosphere for the art world in the Soviet republics. It permitted artists to search for their national identity in literature, art, and music, and to study and develop folk art.
Lithuanian authors (including Klemensas Čerbulėnas and architects Jonas Minkevičius, Feliksas Vitas, Jonas Baršauskas and Leonas Kitra) explored issues relevant to the modern living environment, echoing the view of the functionalists that the beauty of household and routinely used objects resided in their form, as determined by their function.
"Form that does not derive from an object's purpose is useless for people," wrote Leonas Kitra. He emphasized that, in the modern world, unique objects were being replaced by machine and mass-made, standardized products, because "they were cheaper and more accessible to the broad masses, and thus able to satisfy their growing demand." The aesthetic appearance of objects was, according to Kitra, determined not by the high price of its material, but rather by its external aesthetic, proper proportions, and harmonious composition. All practical objects, in his view, demanded moderate ornamentation suitable to the object's form. L. Kitra, S. Subačiuvienė, Mūsų butas, Vilnius, 1959, p. 115–116. 
Thus, modern, notional form combined with a unique national ethnic identity became distinguishing characteristics of Soviet applied art. Artists of the "new style" now had a solid theoretical support structure that allowed them to create objects and works of art that were modern in style and uniquely national in character. Modernism's role in the applied arts was strengthened by similar movements taking place in other fields of art. The pomposity and official formality that dominated post-war Soviet fine art was replaced with the "austere" style that espoused simplified and stylized artistic forms that limited the illustration of subject matter. An "austere" style tempered by the Lithuanian worldview began to appear in Lithuanian art in the form of imagery highlighting poetic moods, labor, everyday life, the domestic routine of the village, and popular holidays and celebrations. Large, decorative and stylized forms featuring simplified lines and spaces began to dominate the applied arts as well as painting, graphic art, and sculpture.
The artist and industrial production
The government of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic (LSSR) reacted promptly to guidelines issued in Moscow regarding modernization of all facets of life, adopting a torrent of corresponding decrees and directives. The first of these came in 1956, in the form of a resolution by the LSSR Council of Ministers entitled "On Measures to Develop Decorative Applied Art in the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic." The resolution envisioned recruiting artists and folk art craftsmen to participate in the design of consumer products, improve training of applied arts specialists, organize periodic exhibitions of consumer product designs, and expand the production of applied artwork made from glass, amber, and other materials. Phrased in more contemporary terms, the resolution was aimed to support a field of design capable of boosting both conceptualization and production of "consumer products."
The 1956 resolution was intended to disseminate applied artwork on a mass scale through production in large quantities. "Dailė" (Art) factories and light industry enterprises that produced items for daily domestic use such as fabric, carpets, furniture and ceramics benefitted from increased government attention. Pre-war textile companies such as "Drobė" (Cloth), "Kauno audiniai" (Kaunas Fabrics), "Liteksas", "Lima", and "Kaspinas" (Ribbon) were revived and further developed under the auspices of the Lithuanian Textiles Center in Kaunas. The first industrial carpet factory in Lithuania was launched in Lentvaris in 1956. That same year, a small weaving cooperative in Vilnius was expanded to form the spinning and weaving factory "Audėjas" Audėjas"Audėjas" is a textiles factory that was established in 1946 in Vilnius as a weaving cooperative. In 1956, the company was converted into a spinning and weaving factory for the production of yarn, upholstery, decorative cotton and woollen fabrics and nonwoven materials. A portion of the factory's products was exported to other Soviet republics. In the late 1960s the company was reorganised and expanded again, and continues to operate as Audėjas LLC today, producing upholstery and decorative fabrics..
The reforms and restructuring policies of the 1950s also targeted another industrial production facility in Kaunas, the future "Jiesia" JiesiaJiesia began as an experimental factory for the production of decorative ceramics.

Formally established in 1964 as part of the Vilijampolė tile facility, the ceramics division of a construction materials plant in Kaunas, Jiesia's origins reached back to 1935 and the "Š. Zalberis Tile and Ceramics Factory" that had operated in Vilijampolė, a neighbourhood of Kaunas.  Nationalised in 1940, the company was reorganised as the State Tile and Ceramics Factory and was merged into the newly opened Industrial Factory as that facility's Ceramics Unit soon after the war. The factory was reorganised again in 1956 as the Construction Materials, Metals and Wood Processing Factory, with separate units established for ceramics, wood processing and other functions. The complex was renamed the Construction Materials Factory in 1961, and in 1962 it took on the name Jiesia, reorganising once more in 1964 as the Jiesia Decorative Ceramics Factory. Later, small tile and ceramics workshops in Viekšniai, Kybartai, Mizarai, Švenčionys and elsewhere were merged into the enterprise.

The factory began producing Lithuanian-made bone china in 1975, after experimental production had been conducted beginning in 1974 on a small bone china line that was later transformed into the Kaunas Experimental Porcelain Production Laboratory. A special stoneware unit was launched in 1976 to produce sintered materials resistant to high temperatures and impermeable to liquids.

Jiesia represented Lithuanian ceramics throughout the Soviet Union and abroad, with production exports beginning in 1977 to Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Switzerland, Finland, Spain, Canada and Japan. The factory was renamed the Jiesia Decorative Ceramics Factory in 1988, and was reorganised into the Jiesia Corporation in 1993. The company began to founder after the restoration of Lithuanian independence and the loss of traditional markets in the former Soviet Union, exacerbated by the Russian financial crisis of 1995. Stoneware production was halted in 1997.

Jiesia entered its first round of bankruptcy proceedings in 2002 and, after a brief period of operations surviving on government life support, declared bankruptcy again in 2006. Acquired by "Sabonio klubas ir partneriai LLC" in 2006, the facility was renamed Kauno Jiesia LLC. Today, the company operates a small porcelain production line fulfilling orders from English bone china for private individuals and institutions.
 decorative ceramics factory (established in 1964).
Furniture factories In Vilnius, Kaunas, Šilutė, and Jonava were mechanized and expanded. An Experimental Design Office was established under the Lithuanian Ministry for Furniture and Materials Processing in 1957 (and renamed the Experimental Design Office of the People's Economic Council in 1959) tasked with the creation of designs for the Lithuanian furniture industry.
While the creation, development and renovation of light industry enterprises were indeed tasks requiring a government-led approach and implementation by state institutions, the emergence of new enterprises was often accelerated by initiatives arising from the personal ties and connections that existed between individual artists and government officials. Textile artist Juozas Balčikonis wrote of such initiatives in his memoirs.
Textile artist Ramutė Jasudytė described her decade of work beginning in 1958 as a designer for the Audėjas weaving factory as something akin to slavery. She found the working environment at the facility oppressive. Moreover, as a Lithuanian speaker, she felt alienated within the factory's largely Russian-speaking workforce. Although more graduates from the Arts Institute were hired at the plant in the late 1950s, including Algimantas Stulgys and Mina Levitan-Babenskienė, Jasudytė missed a sincere interaction and artistic environment among her colleagues. There were, however, positive aspects of working at the plant: one day a week was set aside as a "creative day", employees were given one month a year for creative leave, and they could also avail themselves of business travel opportunities to the various textile-making centers of the Soviet Union: Moscow, Leningrad, Armenia, Uzbekistan and Karelia.
The leading applied arts exhibitions of that period were intended to spur the demand for a modern domestic environment and promote the ideas of complimentarity and unity of style.
"Ensemble design" and the development of different fields of applied art
In comparison to the rapid development of ceramics and textiles, progress in other fields of the applied arts was considerably more modest, a fact that raised concern among applied arts proponents who believed that the stylistic integrity of the material environment required even and consistent development across all applied arts fields. What were conditions like for artists crafting works from wood, leather, jewelry, metals and glass? Stasys Pinkus (1925-1992) described their situation as follows in his review of the 1965 Republican Applied Arts Exhibition held to commemorate the 45th anniversary of Soviet rule in Lithuania:
The virtual domination of the commemorative exhibition by two of the more developed applied arts branches raises the important—but no longer new—problem of ensemble design. Without a doubt, the shortcomings seen in ceramics, textiles and other fields of applied art arise precisely because works of art are not created in a cohesive manner, but rather in isolation from each other, piece by piece. In the search for artistic synthesis, ceramics and textiles alone should not seek to represent all fields of art. Metalwork, stained glass, artistic glass pieces, furniture and other artwork can also serve to address shortcomings encountered in contemporary architectural typing and reduce the monotony of exteriors and interiors. The expansion and advancement of our more underdeveloped branches of applied art is an urgent task for specialists in this field.  Stasys Pinkus, „Jubiliejinė taikomosios-dekoratyvinės dailės paroda“, Dailė, 1966, kn. 8, p. 17.
These remarks by one of the best known applied art critics of the era is intriguing in two respects: because he raises the issue of the interaction between different fields of art that was acutely relevant at the time, and, more importantly, because of his insight into the problem of standardized modern architecture that was resulting in a homogenization of the material environment. Less than a decade after the first standardized housing blocks were constructed, specialists were already taking issue with the glaring dullness of such architecture. The question of changing the direction of such architecture so intrinsically linked to the country's overall economy was never raised, but critics of standardized construction maintained their belief that the emerging uniformity of the architectural space could still be mitigated with the use of stylish works of art.
Nevertheless, efforts by Lithuanian architects and applied arts specialists to develop and design public interior spaces across the Soviet Union were received positively. It was probably not a coincidence that Vilnius was chosen to host a national conference organized by the Architects' Unions of the Lithuanian SSR and the Soviet Union in 1962 to discuss interior design. In their remarks to the conference, specialists emphasized the importance of different artistic fields, asserting that a cohesive design ensemble is best achieved not through pronounced declarations, but by “designing, organizing and creating” architectural spaces. In his statement to the gathering, Russian architect Nikolai Luppov noted that:
An interior, i.e. the inner space of a building, is part of the same architecture and its synergy of functional purpose, effectiveness and beauty. The foundations of an interior are established in the design of a building that reflects the social direction of our architecture, its technical and economic state, and a new aesthetic view. Николай Луппов, „Красота, целесообразность, экономичность“, Декоративное искусство СССР, 1962, Nr. 9, p. 19.
Luppov's remarks, and those of other attendees, were important for the applied arts as well, because they emphasized the importance of works of art as objects that completed the design of modern interiors, bringing to them a sense of individuality and harmony. The architects participating in the conference noted the absence of interior planning for mass-produced buildings, and that it was difficult to properly appoint interiors due to a lack of fashionable furniture and other accessories. They emphasized that contemporary architecture required not only higher artistic quality in the individual objects that comprised a given environment, but also an integrity in the style of, and interaction between, such objects. The idea of achieving ensemble-like cohesion in the designing of architectural spaces and material environments became the objective of the era.
Guests attending the conference toured various buildings, giving positive reviews of interiors designed for cafes in Vilnius (“Neringa”, “Tauras”) and Kaunas (“Tulpė”, “Tartu”), as well as stores and bookshops. The Tauras Café, built in 1961 at the foot of Tauras Hill in Vilnius based on design by architect Vytautas Batisa and including sgraffito detail by Laimutis Ločeris, was singled out for particular praise by specialists who felt that the building was not burdened with an overly transitional sense of design (excess ornamentation or a disparity between decorative detail and interior design). In their view, the café successfully integrated all of its elements from a stylistic and thematic point of view.
The neglect of ensemble design in works of art was not, however, the only factor responsible for the uneven development of the applied arts in Lithuania. There were other reasons, including a lack of qualified artists in certain fields, not enough craftsmen working at certain mid-level positions along the chain of production, and an underdeveloped technical foundation. These problems were particularly acute in the metal, leather, glass and wood crafts. The new product design departments (for Clothing Design, Industrial Design and Urban Beautification) established in 1961 at the Lithuanian Art Institute included new training programs in fine and industrial glasswork—part of an effort to encourage the development of artistic glass design. At the time, higher education programs in wood, leather and metalwork were being conducted at applied art technical schools in Kaunas and Telšiai.
Young Lithuanians were also sent to study at the Estonian State Arts Institute in Tallinn, where they could obtain degrees in leather and metalwork design. In the late 1950s, the community of Lithuanian applied arts specialists was joined by several new artists, including a graduate of the Estonian Arts Institute, metalwork specialist Vytautas Budvytis (1925–1967) and his Estonian wife Elina Budvytienė (b. 1935); Tiiu-Ene Vaivadienė (1933–2005), an Estonian who married a Lithuanian architect and moved to Kaunas in 1958; and, somewhat later, by Kazimieras Simanonis (b. 1937). Beginning in 1965, the first Lithuanian graduates from the Estonian Arts Institute with degrees in leatherworking began to return to their native Lithuania, including: Eugenijus Kazimieras Jovaiša (1940–2012), Stasys Jančiukas (b. 1937), Aleksandras Kėželis (b. 1942), Algimantas Šlapikas (b. 1943), Ramutė Kupčiūnaitė (b. 1944), and Rūta Gudaitytė-Zaturskienė (b. 1945).
The production of works of art for residential and domestic use in the 1950s and 1960s was taken over by the network of “Dailė” workshops and factories, as well as master craftsmen at various art production facilities subordinate to the Dailė network, while artists designed templates for mass and serial production items. At the time, the country's strongest artistic talent was concentrated under the roof of the Dailė factory system. Master craftsmen created limited-run reproductions of artists' designs (so-called "limited edition production"). The Dailė workshops played an important role in establishing a technical foundation for applied art and the improvement of its level of quality. Although the factories were established to produce large works of art and mass-produced lines of certain artwork, the wood, metal and leather pieces produced by the Dailė system became quite popular with consumers as an alternative to items produced by large-scale industrial facilities, at the same time cultivating their tastes and artistic needs.
Early on, factories employed artists with specialties in other fields. Leather works, for example, were designed by the ceramist Valdemaras Manomaitis (also well known for his wooden toy designs) and textile artists Angelė Gylytė-Dauknienė and Sofija Vasilenkaitė-Vainilaitienė; jewelry was made by ceramist Liucija Šulgaitė, architect Sofija Rimantienė, and furniture designer Jonas Prapuolenis and others; while the professionally trained sculptor Feliksas Daukantas left his mark on many different fields of art, including jewelry, metalwork, leather, and glass. Wood and metalwork fell under the purview of sculptors. Thus, at the time of the modernist breakthrough, there was still no clear assignment of duties among production units so artists expressed themselves as multi-talented individuals, teaching themselves the skills of various crafts and applying their individual talents to the sectors most lacking in specialists.
The diversity in professional training resulted in an uneven level of artistic quality: with a shortage of truly artistic works, the applied arts market was flooded with amateurish and kitschy products. Later, as the number of specialists increased, the various different fields of art were more strictly regulated. First, artists were classified by level of training and education, and later—by their field of expertise. They were then organized into different professional associations and their work began to be shown at specialized exhibitions. A graduate of an applied arts technical school was rarely considered an equal to an artist with a higher education degree. Classification by production unit and strict regulation of artistic activities were central features of Soviet-era artistic life.


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Sources and links

Декоративное искусство СССР
1961, Nr. 6, p. 4–5
SSRS Komunistų partijos programa
Jerzy Hryniewiecki
„Krztałt przyszłości“
Projekt, 1956, Nr. 1
Leonas Kitra, Sofija Subačiuvienė
Mūsų butas
Vilnius: Valstybinė politinės ir mokslinės literatūros leidykla, 1959
Stasys Pinkus
„Jubiliejinė taikomosios-dekoratyvinės dailės paroda“
Dailė, 1966, kn. 8
Николай Луппов
„Красота, целесообразность, экономичность“
Декоративное искусство СССР, 1962, Nr. 9
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