Brief Glimpses of Beauty. Thinking about the History of Lithuanian Photography

Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis




Lithuanian Photography, Lithuanian Art, Lithuanian History, documentary photography, art photography, Balys Buračas, Jan Bułhak, Antanas Sutkus, Jonas Mekas


The article proposes a critical rethinking of the multi-layered phenomenon of Lithuanian photography. From the beginning, in the 19th  century Lithuanian photography cherished an exceptional status within a cultural landscape, being considered a vehicle of lofty, patriotic emotions. The article is reassessing the social and cultural role of Lithuanian photo- graphers and is looking into a symptomatic lack of synchronicity with the medium’s grand narratives. The Lithuanian history of photography seems to be a consistent and exceptional narrative developed within a relative- ly small milieu of artists based in their homeland as well as Lithuanian émigrés. According to the author, indexical and documentary qualities of photography constitute the core of the phenomenon. The text is advocating inclusivity for non-Lithuanian authors, be it Polish Lithuanians, Russians, Jews, Germans, or Lithuanian Americans. Looking at photographs from the perspectives of literature (quoting Marcelijus Martinaitis and Tomas Venclova) and contemporary art (Jonas Mekas and Fluxus) may be also useful in reshaping and opening up the discourse of the discipline.

Author Biography

Adam Mazur, University of Arts in Poznań, Poznań, Poland

Adam Mazur Phd, art historian, curator, editor-in-chief of BLOK magazine (
His main interests are contemporary art, documentary photography, and sociology of art. From 2013
onwards, he works as an assistant professor at the University of Arts in Poznań (Poland). In 2006– 2013, he worked as a lecturer and adjunct at the SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities.
His fundamental research focused on the histories of photography in Poland and Central Europe, stressing the role of marginal and unknown photographers of Jewish, Ukrainian, and Lithuanian origin. He writes, edits, and curates. He edited exhibition, collection catalogues and books like New Phenomena in Polish Art after 2000 (2007, 2008). He has published many books, to list only the major ones: Histories of Photography in Poland 1839–2009 (2010), New Phenomena in Polish Photography after 2000 (2012),  Depth of Field. Essays on Polish Photography After 1945 (2014), After the End of Photography (2018), Mutilated World. Histories of Central European Photographs 1838–2018 (2019). Most recently he co-curated the exhibition Fotoblok. Central Europe in Photobooks.



How to Cite

Mazur, A. (2021). Brief Glimpses of Beauty. Thinking about the History of Lithuanian Photography: Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis. Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis, (99), 342–362.