NEW YORK – The new exhibition “The Impact of Modernity: Ukrainian Art of the Late 19th and Early 20th Century” opened to the public on Sunday, November 17 at the Ukrainian Museum. Almost 100 guests attended the special event, during which guest curator Myroslav Shkandrij, professor of Slavic studies at the University of Manitoba, spoke about the unpublished works of art and their significance in the history of Ukrainian art in the light of the world fame of several of the artists.
Professor Shkandrij has already organized avant-garde art exhibitions and has written extensively on 20th century Ukraine. The nearly 80 works of art and books on display were selected from a large donation made to the permanent art collection of the Ukrainian Museum by Dr Jurij Rybak and his wife, Anna Ortynskyj, who was present at the event in opening.
Adrian Hewryk, vice-chairman of the museum’s board, and Maria Shust, director, expressed their deep gratitude on behalf of the museum for the generous donation to its permanent collection of works of art.
“The impact of modernity” will remain visible until May 3, 2020.
The works of art in the exhibition range from classics from the late 19th and early 20th centuries to avant-garde experimental art from 1910-1930, works produced in Ukraine (some before the First World War). world and others during the interwar period) to others produced in the United States by artists who emigrated from Ukraine. Dr Rybak and Ms Ortynskyj assembled the collection by visiting art dealers and auctions, discovering works in little-known stores, or buying them from acquaintances. The avant-garde historical period becomes of particular interest to them.
Oleksandr Murashko and Heorhii Narbut represent the modernist period of the early 20th century, two great artists who left a rich legacy and continue to exert a powerful influence on the development of Ukrainian art. Works by several prominent artists known around the world are also included in the collection – Sonia Delaunay, who moved to France, and Vsevolod Niculin (Nikulin), who went to Italy – and others like Alexander Archipenko, Abram Manevich (Manevych), Simon (Semen) Lissim, Louis Lozowick, and David Burliuk, all of whom immigrated to the United States and made significant contributions to sculpture, painting, and the graphic arts.
Interwar Galicia (now western Ukraine) produced a number of important artists such as Olena Kulchytska and Leopold Levytsky (Lewicki) who worked in graphic art, and the naive painter Lemko Nikifor (Nykyfor) from Krynytsia. Ukrainian artists of the years 1910-1930 are represented by the Kiev painter Mykhailo Zhuk – best known for his decorative drawings and portraits – and by Kharkiv avant-garde Vasyl Yermilov and Maria Syniakova. However, some of the most innovative and exciting works of this period were produced for the theater. The exhibition presents examples of costume art designed for avant-garde performances by the most prominent avant-garde artists: Alexandra Exter, Vadym Meller, Isaac Rabinovich, Anatol Petrytsky, Mykhailo Andriienko-Nechytailo (Michel Andreenko) and Oleksandr Khvostenko-Khvostov. These objects can be seen alongside those of designers like Serhii Kuchynsky, Alexander Kachinsky and Vladimir (Volodymyr) Bobritsky, who immigrated to North America, where they also worked in theater and design.
“The exhibition presents a rare opportunity,” writes Professor Shkandrij, “to grasp the breadth and scope of modern Ukrainian art in the context of international development. Previously unseen works by soul mates – artists from different backgrounds who are all originally from Ukraine – offer viewers the opportunity to see some of the greatest artists of the past two centuries and simultaneously explore the unique homeland-diaspora relationship. that represents their creativity.
This is not the first time that Dr Rybak and Ms Ortynskyj have enriched the permanent collection of the Ukrainian Museum with works of art of great value. In 2013, they donated a large collection of old posters, presented that year in the exhibition “Propaganda and slogans: the political poster in Soviet Ukraine, 1919-1921” (also curated by Prof. Myroslav Shkandrij). The following year, the museum received from them a portfolio of books illustrated by Heorhii Narbut and a lithograph on paper (“Coquette”) by Archipenko, both currently on display in “The Impact of Modernity”.
At the opening event, the director of UM Shust underlined “the important role that private collectors have historically played in the formation of museum collections”. As in the case of Rybak / Ortynskyj gifts, they “preserve the cultural heritage of a nation”.
Thirty-one artists are represented in “The Impact of Modernity: Ukrainian Art of the Late 19th and Beginning of the 20th Century”. The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated and bilingual catalog with an essay by the curator, as well as a brochure.
The Ukrainian Museum is located at 222 E. Sixth St., New York, NY 10003; telephone, 212-228-0110; e-mail, [email protected]; website, www.ukrainianmuseum.org.