Manevich, Abram

Abram Manevich, also known in the West as Abraham Manievich, was born in Mstislavl, a small town in what is now Belarus.  Manevich arrived in Kyiv, Ukraine, at the age of twenty with a dream of becoming an artist.  He studied art at the Kyiv Art School from 1901 through 1905 and continued his studies in Munich.  Manevich held his first solo exhibition in Munich in 1907, and returned that same year to Kyiv as a recognized young master with a promising career. Manevich specialized in post-impressionist landscapes, exhibiting prolifically in Ukraine, Russia, and in Western Europe (primarily Paris and Vienna). From 1916 to 1917, he lived in Moscow and expanded his thematic repertoire to include gritty urban views.  Manevich returned to Ukraine after the revolution to become one of the founders of the Ukrainian Academy of Fine Arts and the Academy’s first professor of landscape painting. In 1919, Manevich lost his son and the terrible tragedy, along with other personal misfortunes, led him to seek to emigrate to the West.  The artist arrived in the United States in 1921, and in 1922 settled in New York.  During his American years, Manevich continued to seek out landscape motifs that reminded him of Ukraine. Among his many admirers was Albert Einstein, who became fascinated by Manevich’s works from his later period.

Manevich’s art combines the traditions of realist landscape painting with innovative practices of modernist and avant-garde art.  Over the course of his artistic career Manevich gravitated strongly towards expressionism.  He believed that reality is not what is perceived by the eye, but rather the imagery created by our minds on the basis of visual perception.  Manevich’s canvases are full of vibrant life but simultaneously elegiac.  One of Manevich’s signature touches is the depiction of exuberant older tree trunks with branches in the foreground on the canvas.  The artist’s continuous exploration of this subject matter testifies to the importance of dynamic lines in his work.  David Burliuk, a close friend of the artist, described Manevich as “a magician of painting, the conductor of an orchestra of colors.”

Manevich died in New York in 1942.  In 1972, his daughter donated a large collection of his work to the National Museum of Fine Arts of Ukraine. Manevich’s paintings are held in major museums and private collections in the United States, Canada, France, Israel, Russia, and Ukraine.

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