Vaclovas Straukas exhibition “The Spell of the Seaside: the Sea, the Lagoon, the Sand, the Wind”

The poetry of Vaclovas Straukas’ photographs and the nostalgia of the contemporary gaze

Retrospective exhibition “The Spell of the Seaside: the Sea, the Lagoon, the Sand, the Wind”


The year 2023 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the famous Lithuanian photographer Vaclovas Straukas. On this occasion, the Klaipėda branch of the Lithuanian Photographers Association is organising a retrospective exhibition of the photographer’s body of work, presenting selected pieces from his major series. Taking place at the KCCC Exhibition Hall, it goes well beyond a mere retrospective exposition. The curator, Darius Vaičekauskas, endeavored to create a revealing showcase about the author himself. It features contact prints of Straukas’ negatives, envelopes containing photographic films and photographs with the author’s notes, equipment from his photo lab, and other artifacts. However, this “kitchen” of the creative process is not just meant to arouse the curiosity of the audience. It offers a rare opportunity to better understand the photographer’s creative experiments and choices, which have led to his recognisable style. What remains unselected for exhibitions and publications can be as telling as the best-known works.

Vaclovas Straukas’ work holds contemporary relevance in various ways. For some, it represents the classics of the humanist Lithuanian school of photography; for others, it’s a reflection of the period of the 1970s and 1980s and its ideological demands; for yet another part of the audience, these images evoke nostalgia for their own youth or an imagined past.


Straukas made his debut in photography just when the humanistic photography trend was forming and taking root in Lithuania, forming what is now known as the Lithuanian school of photography. Born in 1923, the author was part of this movement alongside other renowned creators of the “school” such as Antanas Sutkus, Aleksandras Macijauskas, Romualdas Rakauskas, and Algimantas Kunčius, who were about a decade younger than him. In the early 1970s, he embraced the burgeoning wave of the humanist Lithuanian photography.


Straukas’ retrospective exhibition provides a comprehensive look at his most significant photographic themes, revealing a cohesive portrayal of the seaside region. While each series of photographs may offer a slightly different perspective, they consistently bear the hallmark of the author’s openly poetic and idealized vision. This portrayal of the Lithuanian seaside and its people holds significance not only for Lithuanian artistic photography but also for our collective appreciation of the uniqueness of this region and its recent history.





Exploring the “behind the scenes” of Straukas’ work offers a rare opportunity to better understand the photographer’s creative attempts and choices that have shaped his distinctive style. The selection of images from the photographic films and their contact prints suggests that Straukas was less concerned with capturing the specifics of individual personalities or daily life. Instead, he focused on the generalised expression of human experiences and the poetic essence of artistic photography.