For additional information, please dial the number:
Ukrainian Painting of the 20th c.
The paintings of this era testify to he fact that art of the totalitarian epoch is a complicated and intricate slice of 20th-century culture. When talented artists felt that a certain subject was interesting, they searched for, and found, ways of realizing their creative needs regardless of whatever legal restriction might be in place; the significance of such works became much more important and higher than their ideological content. Highlighting the most valuable artworks of this period contained in the Museum’s collection we must state the following: the work of this period cannot be forgotten or erased from history, since it was during this time that the subsequent generation of great Ukrainian artists was groomed. And furthermore: This subject matter, as well as the art historians of this period, require a more thorough analysis that would enable the good to be separated from the bad.
The great discovery of the late-1940s and early-1950s proved to be the Transcarpathian school of painting, which is represented by monographic collections of the works of A. Erdelia, Y. Bokshai, F. Manailo, A. Kotska, H. Hliuk, A. Kashshai, Z. Sholtes, and E. Kontratovych, artists who demonstrated an individuality through a great tradition of the local color of this region, and has continued uninterrupted since works of this school began to be collected.
Although only a short instant in the timeline of art, the late-1950s and early-1960s is referred to as a “thaw”, which brought with it new political orientations and gave artists the hope for creative self-realization. The 1960s saw monographic exhibits of works by O. Murashko, F. Krychevsky, and A. Petrytsky, painters with an absolute sense of color, works that were known the world over and had become the benchmark of the highest of world standards. The bright aesthetic impression that is taken away from their paintings coincides with the artists belonging to the group now known as the “1960-iers” (shistdesiatnyky) formally experimenting with pushing the envelope of their creativity. The synthesis of all of the previous world and Ukrainian artistic tendencies were renewed and became the leading subject that has remained relevant to this day. In 1961, a monographic exhibit of the works of F. Krychevsky – who had been purposely ignored by the totalitarian government yet never forgotten by the world of art – was organized. From among Krychevsky’s works that were exhibited and were acquired by the Museum for its collection were the world-famous triptych “Life”, (1925-1927), “Mother”, (1929), and others.
The works of all generations of the artists belonging to the “1960-iers” renewed the aesthetics of the artistic system. New values became evident in the works of artists of all ages: T. Yablonska, Ye. Volobuiev, M. Bozhiy, D. Shavykin, V. Zaretsky, O. Zkharchuk, V.Zabashta, B.Rapoport.
The younger generation of artists belonging to the “1960-iers” – V. Barynva-Kuleba, V. Vyrodova-Hotie, T. Holembiyevska, V. Hurin, Z. Lerman, Yu. Lutskevych, and M. Romanyshyn – embodied the spirit of radical aesthetic searching, not a borrowed searching, but one with its own individuality and uniquely their own. The artists-“1960-iers”, samples of whose works are represented in the Museum’s painting collection, brought back to life in their works the national Ukrainian style that had optimally appeared in the works of T. Yablonska and, eventually, I. Marchuk, F. Humeniuk, and A. Antoniuk. This style was absolutely individualistic in creative self-expression, but one in the spiritual perception of works that were extremely varied as to content.
Social Realism – born of the totalitarian regime – was supported on the creative shoulders of artists of varying world philosophies. In the reality of official and alternative painting, the kernel of which was composed of artists of great artistic and professional erudition, the phenomenon of the actual artistic situation developed. In the 1970s, many Ukrainian artists stayed true to the principles of the free artistic spirit of the “1960-iers”, which facilitated an unencumbered intellectual-philosophical searching and creation of form. During the Soviet period of Ukrainian history, the Museum’s collection policy was dictated by official ideological and aesthetic decrees that were, in effect, very limiting. The underlying strategy of totalitarianism regarding painting was one of a consumer’s position to its principles and overall direction. The system, the interest in art and its creative works as a means to its own political interests, directed the activity of artists so that it was in keeping with its own ideological needs; this was accomplished through pressure and cynicism. Official ideology determined the artistic canvas and denied the free expression of intellectual-philosophical and formal searching.
In the paintings of the 1960s and1970s, the most powerful of artistic styles was that of one based on Ukrainian folklore, which was optimally utilized in the works of T. Yablonska, V. Zadorozhny, R. Selsky, F. Janailo, A. Kotska, I. Marchuk, and O. Zalyvakha, as well as representatives of the younger generation of artists A. Antoniuk and F. Humeniuk.
The stylistic orientation of the 1960s and 1970s was not limited to one based solely on folkore; a very stern style has been documented in the works of the artists M. Vanshtein, I. Hryhoriev, V. Ryzhykh, and O. Oriabynsky. A line of intimate psychological painting is observed in works held in the Museum’s collection by the artists L. Levych, I. Makarova-Vysheslavska, H. Borodai, and S. Odainyk, and was an alternate pathos of the subject matter of officially sanctioned paintings of the 1970s.
The Lviv School of painting can attest to the horizons of world views of the 1960s and 1970s, which do not exist without the informational atmosphere of contemporary world art. It unchangingly cultivated and differentiated individual stylistic freedom. This direction is represented in the Museum’s collection of the still unofficial in the 1960s and 1970s abstractionists of the Lviv School K. Zvirnynsky and Z. Flinta, whose works were acquired by the Museum only subsequent to an exhibit held in 1990. The character of the Lviv School is rounded out by the works of L. Medvid, who was known for his extraordinary formal ability of embodying subjective imagery and associative experience.