The Role of Art in Diplomacy and State’s International Representation in Latvia (1918–1940)

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    • Presentation speakers
      • Ginta Gerharde-Upeniece, Latvian National Museum of Art, Latvia

    Since the restoration of independence in 1991, the history of Latvia is considered to be a continuation of the period of the first period independence (1918-1940) with its achievements and failures in politics, economics and culture. This aim of this presentation is to assess the idea of continuity of cultural (art) institutions and the representation of art abroad.
    In the historical development in the territory populated by Latvians, in which the dominant condition was the repeated shifts of foreign powers, the formation of the state (on November 18th, 1918) was a significant turning point in each of the areas – politics, economics, social and cultural fields. Collaboration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia with culture institutions, activities of artists in the ranks of the diplomatic service, the significance of individuals and professionalism in representing art on a national level is reflected. Latvian embassies and consulates opened abroad gave socially active persons an opportunity to join the diplomatic service. Recognized artists have worked in diplomacy.
    Latvian art had gained new, internationally recognized quality in exhibitions abroad in the 1930s. The high artistic level effectively became a joint success of the state’s foreign policy and culture. .In the dialogue between art and diplomacy the representatives of the Embassies – diplomats Oļģerds Grosvalds, Kārlis Zariņš, Alfreds Bīlmanis, etc., played an exceptionally important part together with countless helpers in the preparation of the events.
    Latvia’s diplomatic service is the only institution that has worked uninterruptedly since the founding of the state in 1918. Persistence of this service is a real testimony of the continuity of Latvia and its international recognition. Considering the long period of interruption (1940-1991) brought by two occupations, cultural continuity will be secured if, confrontation aside, intellectual, creative resources are invested in this process.