T h e U k r a i n i a n
M u s e u m
New York, NY
Crossroads: Modernism in Ukraine, 1910-1930
A First for New York
New York City, October 11, 2006 — Crossroads: Modernism in Ukraine, 1910-1930, the first major exhibition of early 20th century Ukrainian art to be shown in New York City, opens November 5 at the new Ukrainian Museum, a state-of-the-art, 25,000-square-foot facility located at 222 East 6th Street. The exhibition will be on view through April 29, 2007.
The show was organized by the Foundation for International Arts and Education with the National Art Museum of Ukraine. The Foundation, a non-profit organization was created to help preserve and protect artistic and cultural legacies in the countries of the former Soviet Union through exhibitions, financial support and education. The National Art Museum of Ukraine was founded in 1904 and has grown into a prestigious national institution, whose collections reflect the history of art in Ukraine.
Featuring the best of high modernism from Ukraine, the exhibition includes more than 70 rarely seen works by 21 Ukrainian artists; each of the works is being shown for the first time in the United States. Examples from the Avant-Garde, Art Nouveau, Impressionism, Expressionism, Futurism and Constructivism movements are presented in a fresh, new light.
Crossroads: Modernism in Ukraine includes the works of well known artists such as David Burliuk, Alexandra Exter, and Kazimir Malevich as well as those of many artists still unknown to American audiences. Although the former are commonly associated with the Russian Avant-Garde, one of the revelations emerging from the exhibition is that much of what has been regarded as Russian modernism was, in fact, incubated in Ukraine.
The works in the show range from huge oil canvases to graphic arts to theater and opera design. The first impression is of an abundant use of color. Another striking aspect of the works is the way they mesh the past and the present, bowing to the influences of cultural traditions, but expressing them through modernism. The abstract works are rooted in the principles of Ukrainian folk art; they also resonate with Byzantine aesthetics, with medieval ecclesiastical art, and with the tensions inherent in classic 17th century Ukrainian Baroque.
According to one of its organizers, Nikita Lobanov-Rostovsky, the exhibition is designed to show American audiences the talent and unique nature of Ukrainian Avant-Garde artists. "Viewers will be able to observe that not only Moscow and St. Petersburg were breeding grounds of new, non-objective art of the 20th century," he explains. "Form and color were combined also in Kyiv and Kharkiv, where these ideas prospered and succeeded since 1908. Many 'founding fathers' of this art in the Russian Empire of that time were Ukrainians born and bred."
The works on exhibition are from the National Art Museum of Ukraine, the Theater Museum, and the Museum of Folk Art of Ukraine in Kyiv, the Art Museum of Dnipropetrovsk, and private collections. They were selected by Professor Dmytro Horbachov and Nikita Lobanov-Rostovsky, who are dedicated to preserving and disseminating knowledge about the Ukrainian Avant-Garde.
The Ukrainian Museum will be the second stop for this exciting exhibition, which opened this summer at the Chicago Cultural Center. A richly illustrated, bilingual catalogue accompanies the exhibition. The catalogue includes essays, written by leading international experts, tracing Ukrainian artistic expression and experimentation over the years 1910-1930 while contextualizing the works that emanated from this period of prolific creativity. Professor John E. Bowlt of the University of Southern California served as editor of the catalogue.
As volatile as Ukraine's politics were in the months leading up to the recent Orange Revolution, so too was the cultural exuberance beginning with the turn of the century. This exhibition offers a taste of the electrifying energy of that period that soon ended with the Stalinist purges that decimated Ukraine. A majority of the artistic output of this extraordinarily prolific period was destroyed and most of the artists forced underground, exiled, or executed. Through this show, examples of modern Ukrainian art offer a rare glimpse into a long-neglected area of modernist endeavor, of cultural endurance and creative freedom.
The exhibition's national tour is sponsored by the Boeing Company; the Trust for Mutual Understanding; Nour USA, Ltd.; Konstantin Grigorishin; and AeroSvit Ukrainian Airlines. Financial support has also been provided by Oleksandr Tabalov and Mykola Shymone.
The Ukrainian Museum, an institution showcasing Ukrainian culture and history, has been serving its constituency and the public since 1976 through exhibitions, educational programs, and public events.
Its purpose is to preserve the cultural heritage of Ukrainian Americans as well as to document the contributions of Ukrainian immigrants to America's cultural treasury. In 2005 the Museum inaugurated its new facility with a dynamic retrospective exhibition of the works of Alexander Archipenko, a leading voice of Ukraine's modernist era.
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