Konrad Mägi (1878–1925)


Konrad Mägi is often considered to be the most important painter in the history of Estonian art. Regardless of the fact that his creative career lasted only 20 years, he had a significant impact on the art scene of his time and on subsequent developments. Several ‘isms’ have been used to describe Mägi’s paintings. This is an indication of his strong capacity for synthesis as an artist and at the same time of the existence of his own distinct approach as well. Primarily landscapes, but also portraits, set the tone in his body of creative work.

Konrad Mägi was born in Southern Estonia and studied in St. Petersburg but his education there was at a school that taught technical drawing. He left school without graduating and spent the summer of 1906 in Aland together with friends of his, who were writers and painters. It is there that the already 27-year-old Mägi started painting more seriously for the first time and he continued painting on his subsequent trips to Paris, Normandy and Norway. He worked in Estonia from the summer of 1913 onward and also founded the Pallas Art School there, which turned into the training ground for dozens of artists. Mägi travelled to Europe once again in the early 1920’s but his premature death in 1925 ended his intensive, productive and varied career as an artist.