Photography in Lithuania

History of Lithuanian photography started just after the invention of photography was made and the news about it spread in the world. It was 1839 when first photos in Lithuania were taken. Then the Palace of Verkiai near Vilnius was captured. In 1845 the first photo atelier was opened in Vilnius and soon the number of such studios grown significantly. Photographers then came to work to Lithuania from Prussia or at least they learned this art in Prussia. Then a strong influence for development of Lithuanian photography was made by the Petersburg Art Academy. At first the portrait photography was dominating, but later in 1860, albums of Vilnius views were on foot.

Photography was soon adopted to science in Lithuania as in 1866 in Vilnius observatory there was established the second heliograph in the world which was used to take pictures of Sun spots. In 1872 photos of patients in hospitals were made in order to illustrate medical announcements of Empire Medical Association. The art of photography really spread fast and wide as in the end of 19th century many early Lithuanian photographers attended various international exhibitions where they were even awarded. In the 20th century photography did not surprise people anymore. It became a usual thing affordable for people even in provincial towns. Then first shops of photography appeared, several laboratories for enthusiasts of photography were established. A significant bound forward was made when the cathedral of photography in Faculty of Art in Vilnius University and a Photo Club in Vilnius were established.

During the years of independence of Lithuania many interesting photographers appeared in the country and in 1932 photography was finally declared to be a branch of art. Then Lithuanians tried to record their free country as the idealization of nationalism was pretty significant then. However, the closer the second Soviet occupation was, the more professional photographers were leaving Lithuania to USA, Canada and other foreign countries.  Luckily, the censor of Soviet government was not so strict for photographers as for exponents of other arts. Then the favorite theme of photos was the poor, sometimes even tragic village life. In the horizon of photographers the dark side of daily life was brought. Works of Lithuanian artists caught great attention of local and also foreign society after the exhibition of photo works in Moscow in 1969 called “9 Lithuanian Photographers”.  In 1973 the first Museum of Photogrphy  in all Soviet Union was established in Šiauliai.

As soon as Lithuania got back its independence, the art of photography became a conceptual and multilingual art, where there many different variations can be found. This is not a surprising moment as today art overcomes countries and coalesces into one international compound.

The most famous Lithuanian photo artists are: Romualdas Požerskis, Vytautas Balčytis, Violeta Bubelytė, Alfonsas Budvytis, Algimantas Kunčius, Antanas Sutkus, Remigijus Pačėsas and others.