Str. 33, LT-92145, KlaipŰda, Lithuania.
Tel./fax (8-46) 410416; tel.: (8-46) 410412.
EXHIBITION OF PRANAS DOMđAITIS WORKS
Pranas Domaitis ( Franz Domscheit) was well known in Germany
after World War I and in South Africa after World War II. But it
has been only in recent decades that the Lithuanian public
learned more about him, when the bulk of his creative output
came under the guardianship of the Lithuanian Foundation /USA/.
Domaitis, from childhood
maturing in the blend of neighboring cultures, is a classic
artist of the borderlands. He absorbed international influences,
yet he maintained a strong national identity. In one letter
Domaitis spoke about his ancestry: 'But Lithuanian blood does
not decieve, just as my paintings are truly Lithuanian. '
Until the age of 27 Domaitis
lived in his birthplace where he began his creative activity as
a self-taught artist while he helped his father tend the family
Trough the intercession of
famous German artist Max Liebermann, Domaitis was accepted to
the Konigsberg Art Academy (1907). At the beginning of his
creative path, Domsaitis was influenced by German artists.
Domaitis experienced a very
strong impact from his visit to Edward Munch in Norway.
Domaitis was similarly affected by the French expressionist
Georges Rouault, especially in religious themes.
His first exhibition in the
Gallery Ferdinand Moller in 1919 attracted critical attention
and his works began to be added to various collections in
Konigsberg, Stettin and Lubeck, and the National Gallery in
Berlin acquired an 'Adoration'.
During 1921ľ1937 he
participated in group exhibitions in Germany (Berlin, Essen,
Hamburg, Konigsberg, Breslau, Stettin, Munich), Austria,
Switzerland, Romania and Turkey.
When political and social
conditions changed in Germany, the time of creative enthusiasm
and stability came to an end. In 1937 there began throughout
Germany the confiscation of art works that did not conform to
the values of the official ideology. The final accent was an
exhibition opened in Munich in the summer of 1937 under the name
Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art). Domaitis shared with Nolde,
Kirchner, Muller, Dix and others, the most important artists of
the day, the miseries and honor of having his work in the
exhibition of 'Degenerate Art' in 1937 in Munich.
It was thereafter impossible
for Domaitis to exhibit further in Germany, and began 1938 he
sometimes lived at Vorarlberg, Austria and signed his picture
from that time onward with his Lithuanian name ľ Pranas
Domaitis. In 1946 he participated in a refugee exhibition in
Bregenz, the first time his work was represented as Lithuanian.
In 1949 his wife was
appointed senior lecturer in singing at the University of Cape
Town in South Africa, a country, he had dreamed of as a child.
New landscape, new color, made Domsaitis final South Africa
period a time of renewal and confirmation as his art grew
simpler and even stronger in design. His painting took on a
melancholy stillness and transcendental premonitions. His
landscapes, common human figures are filled with deep symbolism.
Especially important is the
deeply experienced archetypes of his work ľ the journey and the
themes of travelling ľ expressed realistically as well as
expressions of Biblical studies.
This late breakthrough in the
artist's creative powers amazed South African art critics, who
were being invited each year to several personal exhibitions of
Domaitis' paintings. In 1964 Domaitis received, for his
achievements in the field of artistic creation, one of the most
prestigious South African awards ľ the Artists of Fame and
Domaitis died in Cape Town
in 1965 at the age of 85, and in 1966 the National Gallery in
Cape Town held a memorial exhibition of over two hundred of his
works which later was shown in other museums in South Africa.
It is fortunate that the
harvest of Domaitis long creative growth, which matured in
foreign lands, in large part has returned to the area of
In 1989, when Lithuania began
his journey to independence, the Lithuanian Foundation
transferred the first of Domaitis works to Lithuania. In the
course of several years the Foundation donated a collection of
528 of artist's works to the Lithuanian Art Museum.
On July 26, 2001 the Pranas
Domaitis Gallery was opened in Klaipeda. It is home to the
greater part of the collection as well as to the Pranas Domaitis Culture
Center, whose goals are to collect, study and disseminate
information about the artist's life and work. (e-mail:
Although the collection held
at the Lithuanian Art Museum (Domaitis Gallery is the branch of
Lithuanian Art Museum) is the largest in the world, it is not
the only one. There are paintings by
Domaitis at the ľ M. K. Ciurlionis National Museum of Art
(Kaunas, Lithuania); Lithuanian Foundation,
Lemont, IL, USA; East Prussian Land Museum,
Luneburg, Germany; East German MuseumľGallery,
Regensburg, Germany; National Gallery, Berlin,
Germany; National Gallery of Zimbabwe,
Republic of Zimbabwe; South Africa Republic ľ South
Africa National Gallery, Pretoria Art Museum, Johannesburg Art
Gallery, Durban Art gallery and many
Many of Domaitis' works are
held in private collections in Southern Africa, Germany, Austria, Canada,
Australia, the United States, Turkey.
Unknown is the fate of those
pictures which the museums and galleries of Lubeck, Munich,
Hamburg, Stettin, Breslau, Hannover, Konigsberg acquired before
World War II.
"Ich bin doch immer
unterwegs" ("I am always on the way") ľ these words spoken in
German by Pranas Domaitis on his deathbed are constantly
repeated by most of the authors who write about this son of
These last word of the artist
may be used to characterize his creative path, marked by an
intensive search for perfect expression, the only path that gave
a tangible result ľ a spiritual and material legacy attesting to
this man's existence on earth. Domaitis was an artist brought
up by the cultures of two peoples living next to each other ľ
the Germans and the Lithuanians.