Foundation for International Arts and Education


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Crossroads: Ukrainian Modernism 1900 -1930s, 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.


Alexander BOGOMAZOV. Sawyers. 1929. Paper, water-color. 42 by 35 cm. NAMU, Kyiv.


Crossroads: Ukrainian Modernism 1900-1930s

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.




Kazimir Malevich. Suprematic composition. 1920s. Oil, tempera on canvas. 89,5 by 65.5 cm. Private collection, Kyiv.

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.


Alexandra EXTER. Figure with dagger (for "Romeo and Juliet"). 1920. Gouache on paper, 55 by 30 cm. Theatre Museum, Kyiv.


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 me!”

This exhibition combines artistic styles of a wide variety of Ukrainian artists and documents their development through various avant-garde styles – Cubism (Burliuk and Exter), Cubofuturism (Bohomazov), Suprematism (Malevych and Sobachko-Shostak), Neoprimitivism (Yermylov and Burliuk), Expressionism (Epstein, Shekhtman and Palmov), Surrealism (Tyschler), and Constructivism (Exter, Meller, Petrytsky. Yermylov).

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 of art.

Link: http://www.fiae.org/ukraine.html

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