Modern art developed comparatively late in the eastern Baltic, with a variety of meanings, political purposes, and national references different from those to be found elsewhere in Europe and the Americas. Shaped by specific historical events and determined by distinctive local interests, Baltic modern architecture and art of the early twentieth century was charged with a national mission to reflect the political aspirations of the emergent new states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The present article investigates this charged nationalism within the modern art in the Baltic by focusing on the function of architecture in the newly established republics of Lithuania and Estonia during the years following World War I. The comprehension of the creative ways in which Baltic modern architecture was simultaneously employed domestically to articulate a national self-image and implemented internationally to signal democratic and republican progress might serve as a model with which to probe more penetratingly the roles of modern art generally, as well as to provide a new perspective from which to assess national narratives.

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