Martinsona maja EN (3)
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The Martinsons House is the Rothko Museum’s exhibition space reserved exclusively for the ceramic medium. It displays more than five hundred works by Pēteris Martinsons made in different ceramic techniques and materials between 1963 and 2013. Their impressive geography spans multiple Latvian cities and towns and numerous ceramic studios overseas – in Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, USA, China and Egypt. The exhibition hall also serves as a venue for temporary ceramic projects. Meanwhile, the open-storage area holds the Rothko Museum’s ceramics collection.

The Martinsons House is located in a former powder magazine dating back to 1860 – a historical support structure in the 7th bastion of the Dünaburg Fortress. After massive renovation works and functional adjustments to museum needs, it was formally unveiled on 22 April 2022 in a grand festive ceremony attended by prominent cultural policymakers, the higher management of the Daugavpils City Council, the Martinsons family, his friends and associates, students and followers.

The idea to transform the historical powder magazine into an exhibition space for Pēteris Martinsons and his creative legacy and an open-storage facility for ceramic art came in 2013, right after the artist’s passing. The house concept alluded to his perennial longing for a place to call home – something Martinsons never really achieved throughout his long and dynamic career. The vast retrospective collection Martinsons donated to the Rothko Museum (then – the Rothko Centre) at the end of his life kept growing after his passing through new donations from the artist’s family and associates and targeted museum purchases. This body of work became the principal material segment for the emerging art space – a compelling visual representation of the internationally renowned ceramicist’s lifetime achievement and a powerful testament to his remarkable creative talent.

The Martinsons House was renovated and functionally repurposed with project funding from the EU Cross-Border Cooperation Programme HERITAGE 2014–2020. Renovation works lasted from 3 April 2020 to 7 October 2021, and the building was formally put into operation on 27 January 2022.

Pēteris Martinsons (1931-2013) was born in Daugavpils and made history as the best-known Latvian ceramicist worldwide. Consistent and outstanding creative performance made him a true credit to Latvian art and culture and a major contributing force to Latvian contemporary ceramics, which he brought to a whole new level of quality and acclaim. As a leading member of the famous Ķīpsala Ceramics group and a longstanding participant and creative director of artist symposiums in Dzintari, he was the beating heart behind two major phenomena in Latvian culture that transformed national ceramics from an applied craft into a legitimate art form and inspired generations of ceramicists in Latvia and beyond.

At the close of his most ambitious retrospective exhibition in 2013, Pēteris Martinsons donated a substantial part of his life’s work to the Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre (now Rothko Museum). The collection includes some of his first moulded and wheel-thrown objects, reliefs depicting literary characters, monumental figures, series of functional and stylised vessels, brittle porcelain pieces, representations of living beings such as crows, lions and dogs and tectonic structures such as towers and cages in different materials, other assorted figures and multiple sketches. The artist’s ceramic work is impressively diverse in terms of ideas and forms of creative expression, materials, techniques and places of origin. Meanwhile, his ink drawings are striking examples of artistic meditation and essential practice drills for hand and mind.