Alexandra Exter, Still Life, 1913. Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
The exhibition In the Eye of the Storm: Modernism in Ukraine, 1900–1930s presents the ground-breaking art produced in Ukraine in the first decades of the 20th century, showcasing trends that range from figurative art to futurism and constructivism. The development of Ukrainian modernism took place against a complicated socio-political backdrop of collapsing empires, the First World War, the revolutions of 1917 with the ensuing Ukrainian War of Independence (1917–21), and the eventual creation of Soviet Ukraine. The ruthless Stalinist repressions against Ukrainian intelligentsia led to the execution of dozens of writers, theatre directors and artists, while the Holodomor, the man-made famine of 1932–33, killed millions of Ukrainians.
Davyd Burliuk, Carousel, 1921. National Art Museum of Ukraine
El Lissitzky, Composition, 1918-1920s. National Art Museum of Ukraine
Oleksandr Bohomazov, Sharpening the Saws, 1927. National Art Museum of Ukraine
Left: Mykhailo Boichuk, Dairy Maid, 1922-1923, National Art Museum of Ukraine / Right: Volodymyr Burliuk, Ukrainian Peasant Woman, 1910-11. © Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
Despite these tragic circumstances, Ukrainian art of the period lived through a true renaissance of creative experimentation. In the Eye of the Storm reclaims this essential – though little known in the West – chapter of European modernism, displaying around 70 works in a full range of media, from oil paintings and sketches to collages and theatre designs. Following a strict chronological order, the show presents works by masters of Ukrainian modernism, such as Oleksandr Bohomazov, Vasyl Yermilov, Viktor Palmov, and Anatol Petrytskyi. Exploring the polyphony of styles and identities, the exhibition includes neo-Byzantine paintings by the followers of Mykhailo Boichuk and experimental works by members of the Kultur Lige, who sought to promote their vision of contemporary Ukrainian and Yiddish art, respectively. It features pieces by Kazymyr Malevych and El Lissitzky, quintessential artists of the international avant-garde who worked in Ukraine and left a significant imprint on the development of the national art scene. The exhibition also showcases artworks of internationally renowned artists who were born and started their careers in Ukraine but became famous abroad, among them Alexandra Exter, Wladimir Baranoff-Rossiné, and Sonia Delaunay.
Vadym Meller, Sketch of the “Masks” choreography movement “Masks” for Bronislava Nijinska’s School of Movements, Kyiv, 1919. Museum of Theatre, Music and Cinema Arts of Ukraine
Viktor Palmov, The 1st of May, 1929. National Art Museum of Ukraine
Wladimir Baranoff-Rossiné, Adam and Eve. Carmen Thyssen Collection
In the most comprehensive survey of Ukrainian modern art to date, with many works on loan from the National Art Museum of Ukraine and the State Museum of Theatre, Music and Cinema of Ukraine, the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza celebrates the dynamism and diversity of the artistic scene in Ukraine, while safeguarding the country’s heritage during the inadmissible, present-day occupation of its territory by Russia. After it has been seen in Madrid, the exhibition travels to the Museum Ludwig in Cologne.
In the Eye of the Storm: Modernism in Ukraine, 1900–1930s
November 29, 2022 – April 30, 2023 / Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza
Visit the exhibition page >