Lithuanian photographer Vitas Lutskus (1943-1987)


Tbilisi police drank wine with him. Thieves from Odessa came to see this man. From the depths of Bashkortostan they sent him honey. The Catholicos of all Armenians greeted him with a sumptuous dinner. At home he kept a live lion. He worked hard and drank a lot. A string of people trusted him, admired him, imitated his manners and retold his fascinating stories.
His magnificent and extravagant house was the brightest center of the cultural bohemia of those times. The photographer and his beautiful wife hosted famous artists from all over the Soviet Union. Conversations about art and life here lasted longer than a day or two. But the picture swallowed him for real. Photographer Vitas Lutskus lived in a society that did not officially accept him. The frenzy, boundless individuality and extraordinary documentary photographs gave out in Lutskus an artist who refused to adapt to the conditions of the so-called “normal” life.He was not looking for success within the system. More than 20 years have passed. But Lutsk is still a “forbidden” photographer, even in his own, already independent country. His achievements and innovations are still known only to a close circle of intellectuals, as was the case in Soviet times during the life of a photographer.



Mountain with Marx, Engels and Lenin - Bashkiria, Belaya River






Tbilisi, 1981








“We just lived,” recalls the photographer’s widow. “We worked. We lived. We were happy. Only now I understand that it was a story. ” “He had a unique ability to inspire and motivate, he knew how to influence other people. Could work for several days in a row with almost no sleep or drink. ” They met at the hospital when she was getting ready to become a nurse. She was 18 and he was 24. Their first joint house could be called a photo lab, in which there was a folding bed. Wife Tanya became his muse and creative partner, and model, and co-producer. They earned by creating advertising posters that store owners hung over half-empty store shelves.
Self-portrait with Tanya

Lutsk possessed unlimited creative potential and the ability to inspire the bohemian community in which he rotated. He is considered the forefather of conceptual photography in Lithuania.But Vitas Lutsk forever retained his dedication to reportage photography, from which he began his career, skillfully combining two completely opposite directions: pure documentary and brave fiction. Vitas Lutskus called himself a "mongrel." He filled the frames with information and emotions. Often he shot people from an annoyingly close distance, pressed the shutter at the moment when the person began to laugh or raised his hands in motion. From the 1960s to the mid-1980s, he traveled throughout all the Soviet republics, photographing peasants, artists, bystanders, policemen, and urban children. He worked with obsession, the camera was always hanging around his neck. The photographer has never been involved in politics, but his work was not accepted by censorship. He was often watched by informants and police officers. On March 16, 1987, an unknown person, allegedly a KGB agent, visited the apartment of the Lutsk family in Vilnius. Vitas was outraged by this man’s questions, according to the report, he dealt him a fatal blow, after which he himself jumped out of the balcony. Wife found him in the snow. She continued to shoot for several more years, but she never felt safe in Lithuania.In 1991, she moved to the United States, taking with her daughter Katrina, a suitcase with photos and diaries of Vitas and $ 50. There she married. 64-year-old Tanya Aldag is currently working in a nursing home on her ranch in the suburbs of Maryland, where she stores thousands of black and white images filled with Soviet Lithuania.

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