Ukrainian Modernism 1910 -1930 , a collection
of approximately 80 paintings by both world-famous and relatively unknown
artists who created an extremely rich repository of modern works influenced
by Ukrainian traditions and lifestyles.
- Sawyers. ©
National Art Museum of Ukraine
The international avant-garde movement
that reached its zenith during the first three decades of the twentieth
century included many influential and innovative artists from Ukraine.
As elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, these artists were often persecuted
and executed in the 1930s and their works were banned or destroyed.
According to local experts, nearly 2000 of these works were confiscated
by the government during the late 1930s, and only 300 remain today.
This exhibition presents the best of these works, many of which have
only recently been viewed outside of Ukraine.
This outstanding exhibit of 21 Ukrainian
avant-garde artists includes approximately 65 works gathered from private
collections, the National Art Museum of Ukraine, the Theatre Museum,
the Museum of Folk Art of the Ukraine, and the Art Museum of Dnepropetrovsk,
by Professor Dmitrii Horbachov, an international expert on this period.
Featuring works by previously-unknown Ukrainians such as Yasyl Yermylov
and Olexandr Bohomazov, this exhibit demonstrates their talents alongside
world-class artists who claimed to have Ukrainian ties by origin, education
or national traditions including Davyd Burliuk, a Tatar-Zaprozhian futurist,
Kazimir Malevych, a Pole claiming to be Ukrainian; and Olexandra Exter,
founder of the Ukrainian School of painterly constructivism.
Malevich - Suprematism,
© Private Collection
Much of the better-known Russian avant-garde
art also found its roots in the Ukraine. The first publication of abstract
work – Kandinsky’s drawing on the cover of the catalog for
the first international exhibition, Salon of Izdebsky, appeared in 1910
in Odesa and Kiyiv before moving on to St. Petersburg and Riga. Ukrainians
were also the most active participants in the innovative artistic unions
in Russia from Jack of Diamonds to Youth Association, Target, and Asinine
Tail. Ukraine also became the last refuge for the magazines New Generation
and Almanac-Vanguard that continued to publish articles and works by
Matiushyn and Malevych long after they were banned in Russia.
Avant-garde artists sought out typical
Ukrainian scenes and traditions for some of their more dynamic works
– street scenes in Kiyiv, life along the Dneiper, and happy village
traditions were often portrayed. New centers of avant-garde art appeared
as village craftspeople made embroidered works and carpets based on
the designs of Exter, Prybylska and Davydova.
Exter - Figure,
© National Art Museum of Ukraine
After the Leningrad
Institute of Artistic Culture was closed in 1926, Kazimir Malevych moved
to Kiyiv to stay with his relatives and was reawakened by rural impressions
which is reflected in many of his works of this period, including the
double-side painting A Peasant Woman and Cross which is included in
this show. He helped expand the Kiyiv Art School that was viewed as
the Ukrainian Bauhaus – the new art practice-and-theory center.
At the peak of their most active development,
the Ukrainian avant-garde world came crashing down. Many artists faced
firing squads and paintings were destroyed. Fortunately for future generations,
many canvases were hidden away at great risk to those protecting them.
As Vasyl Yermylov noted in the 1960’s, “In the 20s there
were very few artists such as I. Got no doubt that glory’ll find
This exhibition combines artistic styles
of a wide variety of Ukrainian artists and documents their development
through various avant-garde styles – Cubism (Burliuk and Exeter),
Cubofuturism (Bohomazov), Suprematism (Malevych and Sobachko-Shostak),
Neoprimitivism (Yermylov and Burliuk), Expressionism (Epstein, Shekhtman
and Palmov), Surrealism (Tyschuler), and Constructivism (Exter, Meller,
The Foundation for International Arts
and Education is presenting this exhibition in two or more American
museums in cooperation with the Alliance Art Center of Kyiiv. At the
moment the Exhibit is scheduled to travel to Chicago and New York City.
The Foundation is interested in facilitating long-term relations between
American and Ukrainian museums, and will facilitate training, advanced
education and internships for Ukrainian specialists working on this
exhibition. The Foundation’s mission is to make this art accessible
to as many diverse U.S. populations as possible while at the same time
providing support to the Ukrainian institutions lending their works