Romans Suta (1896-1944) was a Latvian artist. His creative work was very wide: painting, graphic art, painting on porcelain and clay, (at 1920’s – in self established porcelain studio „Baltars”, at 1930’s - „M. S. Kuzņecov porcelain factory”), crystal glass engraving, design of crockery forms and decorations, interior design, drawings for furniture, tapestries and fabric panels, book illustrations, theater and cinema scenography, art criticism and theory. Upheaval of Romans Suta creative career took place at 1920’s – in the period that was very important in art history of Latvia, and Suta’s role in this process is highly appreciated.

Self-portrait with pipe (1919/1919) by Romans SutaRomans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum

Painting

Romans Suta spent only a bit more than four years (1913–1917) at art schools. He mostly taught himself by reading books, frequently traveling abroad and forming contacts with contemporary modern artists (Amédée Ozenfant, Le Corbusier, Louis Marcoussis, Juan Gris and others). In 1915, when the World War I had begun, Suta moved to the Russian town of Penza, where he intended to continue his artistic studies at Penza Art School (before that he studied at private art Studio of Jūlijs Madernieks and Rīga City Art School). He also spent a bit of time in Petrograd, where he studied French and Russian modern art. In early 1920s he was strongly influenced by Frenc Cubism.He and other young Latvian artists were founders of Riga Artists group (1920 – 1938) – its mission was to spread ideas of modernism in Latvian art scene.In the late 1910s, Romans Suta created artworks with simple forms and heightened expression. He often depicted Latvians, forged by war and their lives as refugees. By the first half of the 1920s, artist increasingly turned to the styles of Constructivism and  Cubism, as seen in the subject matter which he chose – various still life paintings, figures from the Italian Commedia dell’arte, etc.

Harlequin with guitar, Romans Suta, 1923/1923, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Entrenchment, Romans Suta, 1920/1920, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Still life with pipe, Romans Suta, 1923/1923, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Self-portrait with pipe, Romans Suta, 1919/1919, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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The Church, Romans Suta, 1917/1917, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Refugees (1915/1917) by Romans SutaRomans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum

Graphic Art

 Romans Suta became interested in the lives of ordinary people, watching,  painting and drawing them at outdoor dances and weddings, in little salons, out in the streets of city, as well as at work. Especially it can be seen in Suta’s ink drawings.In 1928 he contributed works for exhibitions organised by the Rīga Association of Graphic Artists.In 1929 Suta became head of the Rīga People’s University’s drawing Studio and he was very enthusiastic about training new artists, specially new graphic artists. After the univeristy was closed down in 1934, Suta continued to teach at his own private studio.

Self-portrait in decorations workshop, Romans Suta, 1929/1929, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Refugees, Romans Suta, 1915/1917, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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In the hippodrome, Romans Suta, 1932/1933, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Rural musicians, Romans Suta, 1928/1934, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Sale. From drawings cycle "Street", Romans Suta, 1927/1929, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Walking into the arena, Romans Suta, 1925/1929, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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On the Bench, Romans Suta, 1919/1920, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Women with a dove, Romans Suta, 1920/1929, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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People on the street. From drawings cycle "Street", Romans Suta, 1927/1929, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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The Red Room (1928/1939) by Romans SutaRomans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum

The Traveling Circus, Romans Suta, 1920/1925, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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The Dancers, Romans Suta, 1915/1915, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Woman and Revolver, Romans Suta, 1924/1926, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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The Wrestlers, Romans Suta, 1915/1915, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Portrait of Aleksandra Beļcova, Romans Suta, 1920/1923, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Strike. From drawings cycle "Street", Romans Suta, 1927/1929, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Sketch for magazine "Atpūta" ("Rest") cover, Romans Suta, 1930/1939, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Sketch for New Year greeting card, Romans Suta, 1930/1939, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Illustration version for Aleksandrs Čaks "Poem about Cabman" (1930/1930) by Romans SutaRomans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum

Book Illustration

Romans Suta illustrated books by Latvian poets. Mostly illustrations are
black and white ink drawings – compositions are quite simple, but they dont
lack any neccesary components for artistic expression. They are elegant, with
harmony and balance of black and white. 

Illustration version for Aleksandrs Čaks "Poem about Cabman", Romans Suta, 1930/1930, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Decorations sketch for Igor Stravinsky's ballet "Pulcinella" (1933/1933) by Romans SutaRomans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum

Scenography/Costume Design 

Romans Suta was as an active scenographer and costume designer in the 1920s and 1930, working with a number of theatrical and ballet performances in Rīga, Jelgava, Liepāja and Rēzekne. Similary how in his painting, Suta in scenography also tend to choose his favorite characters from Commedia dell’arte (for example, in set and costume designs for Igor Stravinsky’s ballet „Pulcinella”). Artist liked to interpret themes for operas or plays quite freely, in this way showing his own artistic manner and originality.

Costume sketch for Carlo Gozzi's play "Princess Turandot", Romans Suta, 1926/1926, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Decorations sketch for Igor Stravinsky's ballet "Pulcinella" (1933/1933) by Romans SutaRomans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum

Decorations sketch for Igor Stravinsky's ballet "Pulcinella", Romans Suta, 1933/1933, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Costume sketch for Igor Stravinsky's ballet "Pulcinella", Romans Suta, 1933/1933, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Two female costume sketches for Igor Stravinsky's ballet "Pulcinella", Romans Suta, 1933/1933, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Series of costume sketches for Igor Stravinsky's ballet "Pulcinella", Romans Suta, 1933/1933, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Stage design for Walter Hasenclever's play "Marriages are made in Heaven", Romans Suta, 1929/1929, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Decorations sketch for Alexander Yurasovsky's opera "Trilby" (1932/1932) by Romans SutaRomans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum

Costume sketch for Carlo Gozzi's play "Princess Turandot", Romans Suta, 1926/1926, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Costume sketch for Carlo Gozzi's play "Princess Turandot", Romans Suta, 1926/1926, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Sketch for decorative plate (1930/1939) by Romans SutaRomans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum

Tableware

In tableware Suta mostly produced designs which displayed motifs from Latvian etnography and everyday life – outdoor parties, weddings etc.

In 1923, upon returning from a trip to Berlin, Dresded and Paris, Suta started to think about a modern Latvian style of interior design – National Constructivism. He together with his wife Aleksandra Beļcova and graphic artist Sigismunds Vidbergs established porcelain painting workshop „Baltars” (from Latin – ars Baltica mean Baltic art). Porcelain ware at the World Exhibition in Paris 1925 received two gold and one bronze medal, and several of the artworks were purchased by the National Museum of Ceramics in Sèvres.

In the 1930s he was the chief artist at the Kuzņecovs porcelain and faience workshop. Suta deisgned both dishware and its decorations.

For the Iļģuciems glass factory, he designed sketches for glass engravings. During the World Expo in Brussels 1935, Suta won a silver medal for a ceramic tea service he designed for the Kuzņecovs workshop. In 1937, at the World Expo in Paris, he took the grand prize for dishes he designed for the Iļģuciems factory. 

Sketches for decorative plates "Dancers" and "Fishermen", Romans Suta, 1928/1932, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Sketch for decorative plate "Horse Race", Romans Suta, 1930/1939, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Sketch for decorative plate "Open-air Party" ("Feast Dance"), Romans Suta, 1928/1939, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Sketch for decorative plate "Refugees Family", Romans Suta, 1926/1929, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Sketch for porcelain plate from set "The Summer", Romans Suta, 1930/1939, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Sketch for decorative plate "Under the Tree", Romans Suta, 1924/1925, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Sketch for decorative plate, Romans Suta, 1930/1939, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Sketch for crystal vase "Woman with a Doe", Romans Suta, 1930/1939, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Sketches for a vase, Romans Suta, 1930/1939, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Sketch for decorative set "Piebalga" (design for two piece crockery), Romans Suta, 1935/1935, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Sketch for the vase "The Baltic Sea", Romans Suta, 1930/1939, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Sketch for interior with wall paintings (1928/1939) by Romans SutaRomans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum

Interior Design

Also in interior design Romans Suta tried to embrace Latvian
etnography motifs in new forms and stylization.

In his modernism phase in early 1920s, he and his friends (modern
artists) made interior design for cafe „Sukubs”, which was owned by Romans
mother Natālija Suta. „Sukubs” name was made from combining two words –
„supremātisms” (suprematism) and „kubisms” (cubism). This showed attitude from
new artists, because walls and other surfaces of cafe was covered with a’la
suprematism paintings. Suta designed also furniture, which were very simple and
modern in forms.

Sketch for wall panel with festivity motif (1928/1939) by Romans SutaRomans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum

Sketch for wall panel with dancers (for "Book-industrialist canteen" in Riga?), Romans Suta, 1928/1939, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Sketch for "M. S. Kuzņecovs" porcelain factory salon, Romans Suta, 1930/1939, From the collection of: Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum
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Design for wardrobe (1935/1935) by Romans SutaRomans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum

Furniture

Furniture by Suta mostly was made for cafes – his mother’s
Natālija Suta cafes. These furnitures was very simple and easily usable.

In other furniture (wardrobe etc.) Suta mostly also depicted
scenes from Latvian everyday life in countryside and these furniture were more
bigger and profound.

Credits: Story

Museum of Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova say thanks to Google Art Project for such a wonderful chance to share art of Latvian modernism masters to the rest of the world!
Biggest thanks from Google Art Project is to Catharina Bruley who helped anytime there was such a need!

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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