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Ukrainian Painting of the 20th c.
In defining the parameters of the collection regarding which artists’ works were to be acquired, priority was given to the professors and teaching artists of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts who were creatively active, the stylistics of whose works as well as professionalism were formed under the influence of the artistic schools of Europe; this turned out to be a positive in the development of the Museum’s collection of modern art and greatly enriched the information concerning the diversity of Ukrainian artistic culture. In this manner, the Museum’s collection was enlarged with works by O. Murashok, M. Boichuk, L. Kramarenko, A. Taran, V. Meller, and the brothers V. & F. Krychevsky.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the most brilliant personage in Ukrainian painting is O. Murashko, the flowering of whose talent coincided with the immergence of new directions in European art such as, for example, modernism. As one of the most distinctive “Europeans” of Ukrainian painting of that era, Murashko boasted a basic artistic erudition that he longed to impart on the youth; he dreamt of creating a “Ukrainian Munich” within the artistic circles of Kyiv. The line of personages exhibiting internal dynamic that he found and transposed to color-saturated canvases, was continued by him in his painting “Woman Flower Vendor” (1917). In this work, the internal organization of images becomes one with figurative harmony and large areas of generalized color. And, as the most colorful artist of his time, he discovers expressiveness in his “Self-portrait” (1917-1918). Painting with a temperamental, motion-filled and dynamic brush, he creates the image of a person who gazes intently into the surrounding life; he lives during a complicated time, a time when the artist must confirm his own personal credo with the utmost responsibility for doing so.
The artistic temperament of V. Krychevsky, which existed not without great concern for the trials and tribulations of Ukraine and her history, manifested itself in a universal talent which knew no limitations – from spontaneous sketching to architectural drawings portraying grand national style, from intimate miniatures to landscapes of epic proportion. He was the creator of a new Ukrainian architectural style and the first cinematic artist, a painter, graphic artist and perspective painter, a master of decorative and utilitarian art, a designer, and teacher, as well as a researcher and authority of old Ukrainian art. In his various landscapes he shows much enthusiasm for the beauty of the Ukrainian countryside; he has a balanced execution of composition, and an intense painting style rich in intricate color combinations with a palpable and direct emotional style of imagery and an artistic skillfulness that was developed through the years.
F. Krychevsky was an artist with an extensive academic background that he obtained in Moscow and St. Petersburg; he worked in England, visited Rome, Venice, Paris, Berlin, Munich and Vienna, where his attention was affixed to the great portrait artist D. Uistler, as well as to secessionists F. Khodler and H. Klimt, masters of Munich secession. The synthesis of European artistic achievements combined with a reference to characteristics of the national school of painting, enabled Krychevsky to develop his own individual style in which he reached the pinnacle of professionalism. The master’s extreme work ethic and great talent manifested themselves most powerfully at the onset of the 20th century.
As an exhibitor at many international and all-Ukrainian exhibits of the 1920s-1930s, Krychevsky was a favorite of the International Venetian Biennale exhibit of 1928, where he first showed the central panel of his highly praised triptych “Life”. This period was the peek of the development of thematic painting that synthesized the accomplishment of artistic practice in the uncovering of the manifold connections that exist between people – this is exactly what the triptych was meant to represent. The creative individuality of the master uncovers the philosophical value of the eternal questions of life: Love, Wealth, and Loss. Painting in its classical variant was enriched by F. Krychevsky’s modern treatment of refined surface-lineal rhythm and harmony of similar colors, as well as by his artistry inspired by medieval monumental wall painting. F. Krychevsky’s social and artistic experiences brought him to measurable forms of generalized painting -- tamed by the requirements of life’s truth that were learned simultaneously by him and his contemporaries through life’s experiences.
In 1928, he Ukrainian Government allotted a substantial sum of money to the National Museum, which was used to acquire works by the following artists: T. Shevchenko, D. Shterenberh, V. Meller, I. Hrabar, O. Rodchenko, etudes by I. Yizhakevych, I. Selezn’ov, and six drawings by O. Ekster, V. Krychevsky, D. Burliuk, and V. Sedliar. Among the new acquisitions were also works by P. Kholodny, O. Hryshchenko, O. Sudomora, S. Kolos, I. Burichok, K. Trokhymenko, T. Fraierman, K. Hvozdyk, V. Korovchynsky, I. Zhdanko, M. Kasperovych, O. Lypkivsky, A. Manevych, O. Tyshler, and O. Yakymchenko. Generally speaking, during the period from 1923 to through the 1930s, the quantity of works that were acquired by the Department of Art increased tenfold. The acquired collection of paintings, which represented many different styles, was catalogued by F. Ernst according to the accepted categories that were in place for this genre of Ukrainian art during the first decades of the 20th century. According to Ernst, these categories were: “Naturalism”, the direction of which was formed in the 19th century and was represented by the works of F. Krychevsky, K. Trokhymenko, and M. Kozyk; “Monumentalism”, which was defined by M. Boichuk and his followers M. Kasperovych, T. Boichuk, K. Hvozdyk, A. Ivanova, and V. Sedliar; and “Neoimpressionism”, which was represented by A. Petrytsky, A. Taran, T. Fraierman, and L. Kramarenko. To newer categories of artistic expressive styles – e.g. “futurism”, “cubism” and “constructivism” – Ernst saw fit to place artists the likes of O. Bohomazov, D. Burliuk, O. Rodchenko, V. Meller, O. Ekster, and V. Yermylov. As is clearly evident, the classifications that Fedir Ernst developed not only denoted concrete painting syles, but also general artistic tendencies.