In the second half of the 1930s, two young and up-and-coming sculptors – Linda Sõber (1911–2004) and Endel Kübarsepp (1913–1972) – attracted lots of attention on the Estonian cultural scene. They left Estonia as refugees in 1944 and, until recently, information about their subsequent lives and activities had been fragmentary. Linda Sõber and Endel Kübarsepp became two of the most acclaimed and promising young sculptors at the very start of their professional careers in the second half of the 1930s. Their works were repeatedly reported on in the press and can be found in art museums. Endel Kübarsepp also participated actively in exhibitions organised by exile artists during the post-war years in Germany. At the end of the 1940s, the two sculptors went their separate ways. Linda Sõber continued her life in Italy and Endel Kübarsepp in the U.S. During the decades of Soviet occupation, the work of both sculptors was ignored, primarily for ideological reasons. However, today, their oeuvre is considered to be among the Estonian sculptural classics of the 1930s.
In 2014, the exhibition organisers contacted the artists’ son Toomas Kübarsepp, who confirmed that he had documents and photos related to both his parents in his possession in Italy. When visiting the Art Museum of Estonia in the summer of 2015, he invited Juta Kivimäe, the head of the Sculpture Collection at the Art Museum of Estonia, and Ulrika Jõemägi, the head of the art museum’s archives, to San Remo to see his parents’ archives. Unfortunately, Toomas Kübarsepp died in November 2015 as the result of an accident in his backyard.
With a grant from the Compatriots’ programme, the exhibition organisers made a trip to Italy in the summer of 2016, where they were welcomed by Mrs. Frohild Heuser, Toomas Kübarsepp’s life partner. She made it possible for the organisers to visit the villa in San Remo’s Old Town which was Linda Sõber’s home from 1950 to 2004, and to digitise the photos, documents and correspondence that reflect the sculptors’ lives. Additional information was provided by Endel Kübarsepp’s photos and letters from the years 1949 to 1958 which Frohild Heuser found in the villa in the autumn of 2016 and sent to the Art Museum of Estonia. In the spring of 2017, additional photos were acquired from archives at the home of Ene Lust, a relative of Endel Kübarsepp’s. Thanks to the abundant material that was collected, it became possible to compile a book about the work and lives of both sculptors and publish it as part of the Art Museum of Estonia’s series of archival publications.
The exhibition includes 15 sculptures and Villu Plink’s photo and video installation. In addition to Linda Sõber’s and Endel Kübarsepp’s sculptures from the collections of the Art Museum of Estonia and the Tartu Art Museum, the exhibition also includes portrait sculptures of both artists made by their teacher, Anton Starkopf, during their time at the Pallas Art School.