2017-08-19 Back to list

Celebrating World Photo Day: Kaunas in Black and White

The earliest of the photographs are dating back to the 19th century.

Founded in 2009 by Australian Photographer Korske Ara, World Photo Day has grown into the global photography celebration reaching the audience of more than 500 million people. The date behind August 19th as World Photo Day originates from the invention of the Daguerreotype, a photographic process developed by Joseph Nicèphore Nièpce and Louis Daguerre in 1837. On January 9, 1839, The French Academy of Sciences announced the daguerreotype process. A few months later, on August 19, 1839, the French government purchased the patent and announced the invention as a gift “Free to the World.”

We at #kaunastic are joining the worldwide celebration by presenting you some of the most interesting and black and white photographs of Kaunas the earliest of which are dating back to the 19th century. One blog post is of course not enough to honour the numerous talented photography artists that have lived and worked in Kaunas, but we believe it can be a good start for future explorations.

Wacław Zatorski (1862-1926) was the most famous Kaunas photographer of his time. Having started practicing in his father’s atelier, Zatorski was the first-ever photographer to be allowed to take pictures at the Kaunas fortress. The resulting album called “Kaunas. 1885-1885” is now kept in the archives of the National M. K. Čiurlionis museum of art. Zatorski documented Kaunas, then part of Czarist Russia, all the way up to 1913 and was awarded the gold medal of the Brussels photography exhibition in 1905 (more works: www.flickr.com/maritul).

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W. Zatorski. Monument in honour victory of the Russian army in the war of 1812 with Napoleon, Kaunas Town Hall Square / Flickr.com/maritul

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W. Zatorski. Nikolaevsky Prospect, now Laisvės alėja / Flickr.com/maritul

Vytautas Augustinas (1912-1999) was one of the best known photographers in interwar Kaunas and one of the founders of the first photography association. Augustinas escaped to the West in 1944 and brought the negatives of his works with him in a wooden suitcase. After spending half a century in the US, the artist came back in 1995 and gave more than 2500 negatives he’d managed to keep safe to Lithuania.

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V. Augustinas. A policeman in Laisvės alėja, 1933-39

Adauktas Marcinkevičius (1936-1960) was one of the pioneers of post-war Lithuanian fine-art photography, the founder of the Photo Section at the Lithuanian Journalists’ Union and first president. As his biography states, in 1956-57, he studied at the Cinematography Institute in Moscow. In 1957, Marcinkevičius started to work as a photo correspondent at the Jaunimo Gretos magazine in Vilnius, Lithuania. This was the most productive period in his artistic career. In 1958, he organised the first post-war exhibition of fine-art photography in Lithuania. He lost his job at the magazine the year after; as a result, conditions for artistic and organisational activities severely worsened. A. Marcinkevičius passed away on January 28, 1960 (more works: www.marcinkevicius.net).

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A. Marcinkevičius. From the coverage of flooding of the Kaunas Hydroelectric Power Station basin, 1959 / www.marcinkevicius.net

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A. Marcinkevičius. From the coverage of flooding of the Kaunas Hydroelectric Power Station basin, 1959 / www.marcinkevicius.net

Antanas Sutkus (born 1939) is the recipient of the Lithuanian National Prize for Culture and Arts and Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas. Sutkus was one of the co-founders and a president of the Lithuanian Association of Art Photographers. Hundreds of his photographs are considered pieces of art and it is very hard to choose just one. So, here’s three (more works: www.photography.lt).

Antanas Sutkus Blind Pioneer. Kaunas 1962

A. Sutkus. A blind pioneer, Kaunas, 1962 / www.theartstack.com

Antanas Sutkus A First Year Shoolgirl. Kaunas 1962

A. Sutkus. A first-year schoolgirl, Kaunas, 1962 / www.theartstack.com


A. Sutkus. J. P. Sartre and S. de Beauvoir in Kaunas, 1965 / www.mmcentras.lt

Romualdas Požerskis (born in 1951) is the 1990 recipient of the Lithuanian National Prize. He attended Kaunas Polytechnic Institute from 1969 to 1975, and has been a member of the Lithuanian Union of Art Photographers since 1976. This photo reveals the restoration of Freedom monument in Kaunas on 10 February 1989 – a half year before Berlin Wall was opened and almost a year before it was destroyed (more works: www.photography.lt).

The Freedom Monument by sculptor Juozas Zikaras was established in 1928 on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the reestablishment of the independence of Lithuania. At that time Kaunas was the temporary capital of the state. In summer 1950, the monument was demolished by the orders of the Soviet government. In 1966 sculptor Bronius Petrauskas restored the statue and it was stored in the Čiurlionis Museum. The monument was restored by architect Algimantas Sprindys and then set to its original place in 1989. The total height of the monument is 12,35m.

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R. Požerskis. Restoration of Freedom monument, 1989

Gintaras Česonis (born in 1974) studied at Kaunas Vytautas Magnus University, Faculty of Arts and the National School of Photography in Arles, France. He is the Chairman of the Lithuanian Union of Art Photographers and head of Kaunas Gallery. In 2009, A Meeting With Kaunas, an album by Česonis and Kęstutis Navakas, a renowned Kaunasian poet, was published. This is one of the foggy encounters (more works: www.photography.lt).


G. Česonis. A Meeting With Kaunas


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