Kyiv to Paris: Ukrainian Art in the European Avant-Garde, 1905-1930

By Prof. Myroslav Shkandrij, Department of German and Slavic Studies

University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

Modernism emerged at the end of the 19 th century as an international movement in literature and art that emphasized the sense of a radical break with the past and the possibility of a transformed world. Rejecting realism and populism, it explored new literary and artistic forms, often under the influence of photography, cinema, new technologies, and recent discoveries in the sciences. European modernism of the pre-1914 years is today often associated with the movements of impressionism, symbolism, cubism, and abstractionism. A second wave of modernism that spanned the years 1914-30 is linked with futurism, constructivism, expressionism and surrealism. This second wave is often identified with the avant-garde, largely because its members were strongly influenced by the rise of radical politics, and sometimes saw themselves as a cultural advance party preparing the way for revolutionary change. Boris Groys has argued that the Russian avant-garde was implicated in the totalitarian politics of the twenties and thirties by virtue of their desire to restructure the world “according to a unitary artistic plan.” (Groys 21) However, radical ways of seeing were as often as not rejected by the Bolshevik party and the political left, particularly when they achieved power. The Ukrainian avant-garde in particular cannot be unambiguously identified with the Bolshevik revolution. It preceded it, frequently challenged it, and was ultimately destroyed by it.

The propagandistic aspects of the Soviet avant-garde that came to the fore in the late twenties have attracted disproportionate attention. “Everything that corresponded to the aesthetics of the workers’ revolution was accentuated,” wrote one critic. (Petrova 6) Other innovations were often overshadow by this political and ideological focus. When the West rediscovered the “Eastern” avant-garde in the last decades of the 20 th century, the primary focus was often on visionary politics and achievements in abstract art. But the movement was always a complex phenomenon, full of competing cross-currents. As new information, long suppressed under Soviet rule, has surfaced, it has become clear that the “Eastern” avant-garde not only differed from the “Western” in significant ways, but was differentiated internally.

Artists from Ukraine were heavily involved in both pre- and post-war waves of the artistic revolution that swept through Europe during the first three decades of the 20 th century. Among thousands of foreigners who made up what is known as the École de Paris, the epicenter of the movement, there were hundreds of Ukrainians. In recent years there has been a determined effort on the part of curators and scholars to return these artists to Ukrainian history. Several exhibitions have been devoted to them, and their achievements have been described in publications like Muzeinyi pereulok (Museum Alley), a new periodical of the National Art Museum in Kyiv that began appearing in 2004. This effort constitutes part of a wider project of cultural reclamation aimed at the reconstruction and incorporation into art history of the often neglected Ukrainian contribution to European life, and is analogous to other recent projects to describe and exhibit the Russian, Italian, Spanish, Polish and Jewish members of the École de Paris.

Pre-war Paris was visited by Vadim Meller, Alexander Archipenko, Alexandra Exter, Mykhailo Boichuk, David Burliuk, Wladimir Baranoff-Rossiné (Baranov), Sofiia Levytska, Abram Manevych, Iosyp Chaikov (Joseph Tchaikov) and Vladimir (Volodymyr) Tatlin. These artists would sometimes join prominent older modernists already living there, like Oleksandr Murashko, Lev Kramarenko, Mykola Burachek, and Ivan Trush. In addition, numerous students were regularly sent to France and Germany to complete their education. In fact, in the years 1908-14 there were so many Ukrainian artists in the city that they had their own club called the “Cercle des Ukrainiens à Paris ” situated in the Latin Quarter at 14, rue Thouin, which housed a library with periodicals from Ukraine . Archipenko was an active member, sang in the choir and conducted tours of Paris salons. (Popovych 14) Travel appears to have been relatively easy. Ivan Kavaleridze has recalled how simple it was in pre-war years to obtain a visa in Kyiv. After producing his passport and ten roubles, he picked up his visa the following day, immediately purchased a train ticket for 32 roubles and 60 copeks, and caught the train. From Western Ukraine , then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, travel was even more straight-forward. Although the First World War and the outbreak of Revolution in the Russian empire sealed borders and restricted movement in the years 1914-20, some artists, like Oleksander Hryshchenko (A. Gritchenko, A. Grischenko) and Mykhailo Andriienko-Nechytailo (Michel Andreenko) still found their way to Paris.

Some figures were only briefly in the West, but made a large impact on the international avant-garde. Tatlin visited Berlin and Paris and is reputed to have offered his services (washing brushes, preparing canvases) to Picasso. Tatlin’s mother was Ukrainian. He was known for wearing an embroidered Ukrainian shirt, singing dumas and ancient songs, and even constructing banduras. Mykola Bazhan has recalled that in 1913 Tatlin found himself in Germany with an orchestra of Ukrainian bandura players, pretending to be a blind player. During a performance, the Kaiser himself expressed an interest in his playing and singing. Later in France , Picasso was thrilled by his performance and invited him to his studio. Here the blind man opened his eyes in enthusiastic appreciation of Picasso’s art. In spite of Tatlin’s offer to be an assistant, Picasso showed him the door. Since Archipenko was creating his early constructivist forms in Paris at the time, it is not unlikely that Tatlin saw them and was influenced by them. After returning from Paris , he began to make his own, now famous counter-reliefs (1914-15).

Other cities, like Munich , Berlin , and Geneva , also attracted artists, among them Meller, Burliuk and Archipenko. After 1922, the work of Tatlin, Malevich and Exter became known in Germany , where it had a strong resonance. Malevich was in Berlin in 1927, and Boichuk visited the Bauhaus in 1926-7. His Mezhyhiria Art and Ceramics Institute, created in 1928, was partly modeled after the Bauhaus. Numerous artists from Lviv in Western Ukraine also worked in Archipenko’s Berlin studio in the early twenties before moving on to Paris . But the strongest contingent of artists was always in the French capital.

Conceptualization of the Ukrainian avant-garde has been hampered by the fact that it has often been folded into the term “Russian.” For some artists this might be an adequate characterization, especially for those who were originally from Ukraine , who spent time in Western Europe before the First World War, but then lived most of their creative lives in Moscow or St. Petersburg/Petrograd/Leningrad. Among them one might count: Aleksandr (Oleksandr) Shevchenko, who was born in Kharkiv, and then worked at Eugene Carrière’s studio and the Académie Julian in Paris (1905-06); Nathan Altman, who was born in Vinnytsia, studied under Kiriak Kostandi at the Odesa School of Art, and was in Paris on two occasions (1911-12 and 1928-35); and David Shterenberg, who was born in Zhytomyr, studied in a private studio in Odesa (1905) and then in the École des Beaux Arts and in the Vitty studio in Paris (1906-12). He then joined the studio of Fernand Léger and others, exhibiting in various Paris salons before moving to Russia . However, even here, the identity issue is a complex one. Interaction among Ukrainian artists, even when they lived in the two Russian capitals, was often intense, and their links with colleagues in Ukraine frequently remained strong. Shevchenko’s close collaboration with Hryshchenko in Moscow is one such case. Aware of these difficulties, art historians have sometimes identified these artists as members of both the Russian and Ukrainian avant-gardes. Another complication is the fact that many artists from Ukraine were Jewish or of Jewish origin. Often their careers began in Kyiv and then moved, sometimes via Paris or German cities, to Moscow . They, of course, brought their own perspective to the rich interaction that produced avant-garde experimentation. As a result many figures simultaneously belonged to, and are claimed by, the Ukrainian, Russian, Jewish and the Western European avant-gardes.

Nonetheless, it is clear that a number of the most prominent figures in this European avant-garde were not only from Ukraine , but drew attention to this fact. Such a self-identification was made by Burliuk and Malevich. The work of a number of others, among them Sonia Delauney, Alexander Archipenko, Alexandra Exter and Vladimir (Volodymyr) Tatlin can be linked to a Ukrainian inspiration. This raises some rarely-examined questions: Was their work and their interaction with Europe influenced by their origins? Are there common features among avant-garde artists who came from Ukraine ? The argument here is that many of these artists, who were members of Western European, Russian, or other avant-garde circles, were also part of the Ukrainian avant-garde movement, one that had its own distinct traits and sensibility.

Even a cursory examination of the artists’ biographies reveals a startling amount of travel, which, of course, facilitated the exchange of creative ideas. Discussions of the “Eastern” avant-garde have usually conceptualized influences as flowing from west ( Paris , Munich , Berlin , Vienna ) to east, although this view has always been challenged. It is now more widely accepted that influences in the pre- and post-war years also ran from east to west. However, artists from Ukraine also traveled in large numbers north , to the two Russian capitals. Since the focus of historians and critics has largely been on events in these cities, they have invariably conceptualized the flow of influences as traveling exclusively from north ( St. Petersburg and Moscow ) to south. The reality here was also more complex. A pioneering, democratizing, anti-establishment impetus originated in the “south” in part as the expression of a marginalized identity. Therefore, a better conceptualization of “traffic patterns” is required, one that would allow developments in Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv, Chornianka (Chernianka) and other nodal points to be seen in a context that takes account of the Ukrainian dimension. A brief look at the careers of Meller and Exter can demonstrate, for example, the important role played by the creative ferment in Kyiv.

Meller and Exter were fellow-students at the Kyiv Art School in the century’s early years. When the first Russian revolution of 1905 temporarily closed the school down, Meller was already attending the Geneva Art School . In 1908 he moved to the Munich Academy of Arts, and then to Paris where he exhibited in the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon d’Automne. With his Spanish wife, Carmen, he first traveled through Spain before returning to Kyiv in 1914. Exter appeared regularly in Paris after completing the Kyiv Art School in 1906. She studied in Carlo Delvall’s studio in the Académie de la Grande-Chaumière in Paris (1909), and contributed to the earliest avant-garde exhibitions in the Russian empire, including the Link (Zveno or Lanka) exhibition in Kyiv (1908). Through Serhii Yastrebtsov, with whom she had entered the Kyiv Art School and who wrote French poetry under the pseudonym Serge Ferat, she was introduced to Guillaume Apollinaire’s circle. Joining forces with Picasso, Braque, and Léger, she began exploring cubism. In the winter of 1911-12 she met Sonia Delauney, and was affected by the latter’s chromatic futurism. From Paris Exter then brought back to Kyiv works for Oleksandr Bohomazov, the Burliuk brothers and others to see. In 1914 she produced the first monograph on Picasso.

The interaction of the Kyiv futurists (especially of Exter, Bohomazov and David Burliuk) generated some of the first avant-garde activities within the Russian empire. All three were also influential in teaching and publicizing the new art. Kyiv avant-gardists first presented themselves in the November 1908 Link exhibition, where the main contributors were the Burliuk brothers, Bohomazov, Exter, and Baranov (Baranoff-Rossiné), and where the “physical features of both the Ukrainian countryside and urban areas were on display.” (Mudrak 139) They again exhibited together in 1914 at the Ring (Koltso or Kiltse) exhibition. Artists from Russia also participated in these exhibitions and the Kyivans exhibited in Moscow and St. Petersburg , but during the years of war (1914-18) and revolution (October 1917 until 1922), when Kyiv was to a great extent cut off from Western Europe and Russia , a strong indigenous avant-garde appeared. An intimate awareness of Western artistic developments allowed Meller, Exter and Bohomazov to developed a unique constructivist style in both painting and set design. Beginning in 1918 Meller and Exter designed costumes for Bronislava Nijinsky’s Dance Movement Studio and other drama theatres. Meller went on to work with Les Kurbas’s innovative Berezil theatre in Kharkiv in the 1920s and developed a school of set design that made important contributions to Ukrainian theatre and film. His talent was recognized at the Exposition internationale des arts decoratifs et industriels in Paris in 1925, where he received the gold medal for his model of Les Kurbas’s production of The Union Secretary (Sekretar profspilky). Exter taught at her own studio in Kyiv (1918-20), then at the Higher Art-Technical Studios in Moscow (1921-22), before emigrating to Paris in 1924, where she opened another personal studio. She also exhibited at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes and taught at Fernand Léger’s Académie d’Art Moderne. Meller and Exter influenced art in other cities through their own work, or indirectly through the work of numerous outstanding painters and stage designers they trained, among whom were Nisson Shifrin, Isaak Rabinovich, Isaak Rabichev, Borys Aronson, Solomon Nikritin, and Oleksandr Tyshler.

Soviet persecution of the avant-garde has suppressed awareness of these achievements, a situation that has only been partially corrected in recent years. Meller, in particular, has still to obtain the recognition he deserves. In 1994 Sotheby’s sold his costume sketches for the 1920’s production of Gas, but attributed them mistakenly to Exter. In the same year, a forgery of his Light Blue Dancer, made for Nijinska’s ballet Mephisto, was also offered for sale shortly after the original had been exhibited in Toulouse and enterprising forgers had made a copy. (Kucherenko 342) In many ways Meller’s history personifies the 20 th century fate of the Ukrainian avant-garde: an intimate connection with Western European trends, a brief but powerful flowering followed by decades of repression and anonymity, and a recent partial rediscovery.

Exter was more fortunate. Her reputation was secured by her permanent move to Paris , where she was able to spread an “Eastern” influence. Like many avant-gardists, she drew upon local folk sources, blending cubism, constructivism and primitivism in her theatre design, costumes and art. But it is less well known that in Kyiv she discovered and supported “naïve” artists like Hanna Sobachko, a peasant woman artist, and women artists from the village of Verbivka near Kyiv, who embroidered scarves and towels, and wove rugs, often using Malevich’s suprematist designs. Her interest in brightly coloured folk murals, embroideries, and Easter eggs was shared by a number of artists, including Bohomazov. In Kyiv she prepared posters for an exhibition of “The Folk Art of Bukovyna and Galicia” which opened 16 April 1917, and on 31 March 1918 at the opening of an exhibition of the decorative works of Yevheniia Prybylska and Hanna Sobachko she gave a talk in which she described the colours, rhythms and silhouettes of decorative forms, and linked the popular love of colour in “young” Slavic nations to ancient icons. Exter also linked Western experimentation with the rhythms and movements in popular ornamentation. She found that symmetry, complex ornamentation, and freshness were the typical qualities of Ukrainian folk art such as kilims, embroidery, textiles, and paintings. (Ekster 18)

The Ukrainian influence, which had already made itself felt in pre-war Paris, was strengthened by the arrival of the post-war immigrants, who brought an awareness of the distinctive work produced in Kyiv in the years 1914-22 by Exter, Meller, Bohomazov, Issakhar-Ber Rybak and their circle. Generalizing, one could say that Ukrainian artists, both in Kyiv and Paris, made important contributions to the international avant-garde in two areas. Firstly, they rekindled the already existing interest in primitivism, filtering it through an awareness of their own folk art and the icon. Secondly, they infused the avant-garde with a love of colour, texture and movement. Exter and Sonia Delauney (who was herself originally from Ukraine ) are credited with transforming the muted greys and browns of Western cubism and introducing bright colours into modern design. Although criticized by Léger for her exuberant use of colour, Exter insisted that this was the “Eastern” contribution to cubism. Archipenko was one of the first artists to colour sculptures. After the war, Hryshchenko, Baranoff-Rossiné, and Andrienko, added to this influence of “Eastern” colourists.

Primitivism stimulated an interest in ancient art and monumental forms in Archipenko, who made an enormous contribution to the development of sculpture. His paternal grandfather had been an icon painter, and his father an inventor and a professor of engineering at the University of Kyiv . At an early age the artist became interested in the relationship between mathematics and art, and in the Byzantine artistic tradition. He studied at the Kyiv Art School from 1902-05, when he was expelled according to one account for criticizing teachers as “too old-fashioned and academic,” and according to another for participating in a strike. In 1906 he held his first one-man show in Ukraine , then went to Moscow and in 1908 at the age of twenty moved to Paris . He quit the École des Beaux Arts after two weeks because he found the academic system confining and tedious, and studied independently. The Parisian years (1908-21) were his most productive. In 1909 he began making revolutionary sculptures, which he exhibited in the Salon des Independants (in 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914) and the Salon d’Automne (in 1911, 1912, 1913, 1919). In 1912 he opened his own art studio in Montparnasse working alongside Modigliani, Gaudier-Brzeska and others. Abstract, transparent, and painted sculptures were among his many innovations. He made Medrano 1 (1912), the first sculpture in various painted materials (wood, glass, metal sheet, wire), created reliefs named “sculpto-peintures,” which were generally made of painted plaster, and produced the first modern sculptures formed with negative space (concaves and voids that created implied volumes). He called for a renewal of “ancient polychromy which is far richer than the contemporary non-coloured sculpture” (Archipenko, “Polychrome Manifesto” 23) and in 1913 exhibited the highly-coloured sculpture Pierrot at Der Sturm Gallery in Berlin . Boxing (1914) was one of the most abstract modern sculptures done to that date. In 1919-21 he exhibited his works in various European cities: Geneva , Zurich , Paris , London , Brussels , Athens , Berlin , Munich . His large one-man show in the Venice Biennale Exhibition, was ridiculed in Telegrafo Livorno of 11 June 1920 and the Cardinal La Fontaine, Patriarch of Venice advised the faithful not to attend. In 1921 he opened his own art school in Berlin , and then in 1923 moved to the United States .

Like other avant-garde artists of the time Archipenko tried not to copy forms in nature but to apprehend them spiritually and then capture their essence. The charm of his works, wrote Apollinaire, comes from an effortless sense of inward order. (12) It is a sense that comes from an awareness of ancient art: Egyptian, Assyrian, Greek, Scythian, Byzantine, and Greek. In his student days the artist had taken part in archaeological expeditions, and some critics maintain that his early works like Woman and Suzanna (1909-10) recall the ancient stone maidens or idols that can be found in the steppe and explore their simple but powerful expressiveness. (Olenska-Petryshyn 490) The profound influence of these statues has been indicated by the artist himself, who has recalled how as a small child he played on one of them, climbing over it. However, during dark evenings, it struck terror into him and he avoided passing it. This same statue now stands in front of the National Art Museum in Kyiv. His interest in ancient art is probably linked to his fascination with cosmic dynamism, the sense of a unity between the highest and lowest forms, between solar systems and the cells of organisms. Art for him reflected the forces of the universe and the best art crystallized intuitively sensed forms. Apollinaire felt that this aspect of his work reflected the presence of ancient belief-systems. (Karshan 12-14.)

David Burliuk was another major figure in the avant-garde. He attended the Royal Academy of Arts in Munich (1902-03) and the Académie Fernand Cormon in Paris (1904-05), participated in the Link exhibition in Kyiv (1908) and was a driving force behind many of the early avant-garde exhibitions in the Russian empire. He gave countless lectures on the new art, including in Exter’s Kyiv studio (1916-18), and exhibited continually, both in the empire and at Western European venues like the Neue Kunstlervereinigung (New Artists’ Association) exhibition in Munich (1910), the Paul Cassirer gallery in Berlin (1911), and the famous “Der Blaue Reiter” exhibition in Munich (1912), whose almanac of the same name published his article “Die ‘Wilden’ Russlands.” In 1912 he made a second trip to Western Europe traveling through Germany , France , Switzerland and Italy . After the Revolution, he brought his family across Siberia to Vladivostok and Japan before emigrating to the United States in 1922.

In Kandinsky, who spent a part of his childhood in Odesa, Burliuk had an important early link to the Western avant-garde. Partly as a result of this connection, the ground-breaking Izdebsky salons took place in Ukraine . The first, which exhibited many Westerners, opened in Odesa (from 4 December 1909 to 24 January 1910 ) and Kyiv (from 12 February until 14 March 1910 ), before traveling to St. Petersburg and Riga . The second, which included scores of paintings by Exter, Burliuk, Konchalovsky, Lentulov, Tatlin, Larionov, Goncharova, and Kandinsky, opened in Odesa (6 February – 3 April 1911 ) and then traveled to Nikolaev (Mykolaiv) and Kherson . It made an enormous impression, since it announced the presence of an indigenous avant-garde art within the borders of the Russian empire.

Burliuk’s links to Ukraine were stronger than is often admitted. He always underlined his Ukrainian Cossack lineage, of which he was very proud, and his link with the land. In fact, both the lineage and the land strongly shaped his futurism. The inspiration for his vision of the new beauty came from a love of Cossack history and of the steppe. Like Archipenko, David and his brother Vladimir (Volodymyr) were involved in archaeological digs in the Crimea . The Scythian artifacts they found in the fifty burial mounds they excavated and the stone maidens they collected influenced their “primitivism.” David began by extolling a “wild, new beauty” that he associated with the forceful, simple and direct as expressed in folk creativity and ancient Scythian forms. In the course of a long creative life he would always return to this primary inspiration.

Burliuk, like Archipenko, was fascinated by the powerful hidden energies within nature. He seems to have believed in invisible realms outside the normal sphere of perception that artists could access if they developed their sense perceptions. The painterly expression of this intuitive apprehension of things can be found in his steppe landscapes, which pulsate with the energy generated by the interaction of countless fragments. The impression produced by these works is of an endlessly multiplying, bountiful natural world, whose process of continuous self-constitution, dissolution and reconstitution can only be intuited by the human mind. In his writings and art he mythologized this southern steppe homeland. It was for him “Hylaea” (the original name used by the futurists grouped around Burliuk, and taken by them from the Greek word for the area around the Dnieper outlet), a term that conjured up Herculean strength, Cossack daring and energy, and natural richness and abundance.

Sophia Levytska (Sonia Lewitzka) was another early member of the Parisian group. She completed the Paris Academy of Art in 1905. Beginning as a cubist and fauvist, she moved into a post-impressionist style and became known for her illustrations of limited edition books, including Paul Valéry’s Ébauche d’un Serpent (c1922) and a French translation of Gogol’s Ukrainian stories. Apollinaire followed her exhibitions and commented on the resemblance of her works to those of Sonia Delauney. Her Parisian contacts were many and her home was a frequent meeting place for Ukrainian artists. In 1931 she organized an exhibition that included Hryshchenko, Andriienko, Vasyl Khmeliuk, Mykola Krychevsky, Vasyl Perebyinis, herself and others.

Restoration work conducted on numerous icons had preoven conclusively that these had originally been brightly coloured. This came as a revelation to many and an encouragement to avant-gardists, who were able to point to their art as deeply connected to ancient traditions. Since the late 19 th century, excitement had also been generated by the restoration of frescoes dating back to the 11 th century in some of the most ancient Ukrainian churches, such as St. Sophia and St. Michael’s Church of the Golden Domes. In the years 1907-9, Mykhailo Boichuk brought awareness of this art to Paris , where he organized a studio in which young Ukrainian and Polish artists experimented with a neo-Byzantine style, combining influences from the Ukrainian icon and folk art, and the fresco art of the Italian quattrocento (the so-called “primitives”). The group’s exhibition was reviewed by Apollinaire. The French critic and poet, who was himself of Polish background, had Ukrainian sympathies. He wrote favourably of the Zaporozhians, producing a version of the famous “Letter of the Zaporozhians to the Sultan” in French. It is possible that Archipenko provided him with a “copy” of the legendary letter and information about Ukrainian history.

Hryshchenko (Alexis Gritchenko), who arrived in Paris after the revolution, also had a strong interest in the icon. He had specializing in biology in Kyiv and Moscow universities, but had also studied art in these cities. He became involved in the modern art movement in Russia . During a brief earlier stay in Paris in 1911, he had met Andre Lhote, Archipenko and Le Fauconnier, and developed an interest in cubism. He had also taken a trip to Italy to study the early Renaissance. In analyzing the Italian art of the 13 th-14 th centuries and the icons of ancient Rus, he found that the old masters applied “cubist” solutions to problems of space and colour. In this way Hryshchenko linked the contemporary avant-garde to the icon and to the so-called “primitives” of the early Renaissance. Hryshchenko was convinced that a full understanding of the icon had only become possible with the appearance of modern art. Like Andre Benois and Aleksandr (Oleksandr) Shevchenko, he found formal similarities between ancient icons, Matisse and Picasso. Although the debate on the icon had been stimulated around 1910 by the final refutation of its darkness, the icon’s formal, painterly qualities (as opposed to its religious importance or Christian symbolism) had never been investigated in the way that Hryshchenko did in his two monographs, O sviaziakh russkoi zhivopisi s Vizantiei i Zapadom (On the Links of Russian Painting with Byzantium and the West, 1913) and Russkaia ikona kak iskusstvo zhivopisi (The Russian Icon as an Art of Painting, 1917). His own work he blended a cosmopolitan world-view with formal features of Byzantine sacred art. In 1919, together with Shevchenko, he mounted an exhibition in Moscow called “Tsvetodinamos i tekhtonicheskii primitivism” (Colourdynamos and tekhtonic primitivism), which was conceived as a counterbalance to production art, graphic and decorative art. The two artists announced that only colour, composition and “faktura” interested them. In the years 1919-21 Hryshchenko lived in Istanbul , where he painted hundreds of watercolours, and then moved to France , where he became known for his exotic streams of oriental colour.

Hryshchenko played a prominent role in the Moscow avant-garde, both as a painter and theorist. He was able to reconcile the Western and Eastern avant-gardes, and explain their common concerns and interests. Unfortunately, his importance, was never recognized in the Soviet Union., partly because his avant-gardism was painterly and not political, and partly because, when he left the country, he was considered a traitor to the regime. As a result his canvases were cut up and given to students in Moscow ’s Vkhutemas to practice upon, and his name removed from art history. Later he exhibited in leading Parisian art galleries and participated in exhibitions at the Salon des Tuileries and Salon d’Automne. He also displayed in Lviv in the 30s at the ANUM (Asotsiiatsiia nezalezhnykh mysttsiv Ukrainy - Association of Independent Ukrainian Artists) and had personal shows in New York and Philadelphia . In 1963 he donated 70 works to the Ukrainian Institute of America in New York .

Mykhailo Andriienko-Nechytailo (Michel Andreenko) studied in Kherson before the war, and placed his first cubist and abstract works in a Leipzig exhibition (1916-17). He worked in Petrograd , before returning via Kyiv to Kherson in 1918. In 1919 he studied in Odesa with Exter, and worked for the theatre. The city was divided into zones and he had to cross the borders with a military escort of get to the theatre and back. He then worked as a theatre decorator in Bucharest and Prague , and finally settled in Paris in 1923. Influenced by Cirico and the surrealists, his works in the 1930s expressed the loneliness and isolation of the individual, and the mysteriousness of things. In later decades he developed a naïve art that searched for harmonius forms and recalled the lost world of the child.

Wladimir Baranoff-Rossiné (Baranov) was also born near Kherson , studied at the Odesa School of Art (1903-07) and the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg (1908-09). He contributed to the Link (1908) and many early avant-garde exhibitions in the empire before moving to Paris in 1910, where he exhibited under the name of Daniel Rossiné between 1911-14. In 1917 he returned to Russia , exhibiting in Petrograd and Moscow , before emigrating to Paris (1925). Between 1925-42, he exhibited at the Salon des Indépendents and other venues. In the 1910s he developed a style that represented a moderate futurism that was decorative, weightless, and full of light, spiral-shaped elements with silky textures. Like Andreenko’s, his work was not politically engaged, but borrowed from the visual charm and spiritual harmony of the icon.

Klyment Redko studied icon painting in the Kyiv Monastery of the Caves in the years 1910-14. Here he met Vasilii Chekrigin, with whom he discussed cubism, futurism and other modern art movements, while examining reproductions of Picasso, Braques, Matisse, and other artists. He then studied at the Moscow Art School (1913), the Petrograd in the Society for the Advancement of Art (1914-18), and the Ukrainian Academy of Art in Kyiv (1918-19). He was a friend of Nikritin and Boichuk. In 1920 he found himself in Kharkiv with Nikritin and Shterenberg, then studied in the Moscow Vkhutemas (1920-22) where he associated with Nikritin, Tyshler and other artists from Ukraine . In the eight years he spent in Paris (1927-35) before returning to the Soviet Union , he participated in the Salon d’Automne (1927), had four personal exhibitions, and met Picasso and other leading figures. Boichuk, Sedliar and Taran spent time with him when they visited the city in 1927. Redko’s early art is abstract and constructivist, bit in the twenties he moved toward a realist style.

Ukrainians also made contribution to other, related art forms, notably the cinema. Both Oleksandr Dovzhenko and Ivan Kavaleridze produced avant-garde films in Ukraine , while at the same time Ievhen Slavchenko (Eugene Deslaw) was making a reputation as an avant-garde film maker in Paris . He who emigrated as part of the exodus that followed the defeat of the Ukrainian National Republic . He studied in Paris in the 1920s and at the École Technique Photo-Cinema in 1927. In that year he assisted Abel Gance in making the early French film epic, Napoléon. His abstract and experimental films include March des Machines (1928), La Nuit Électrique (1930), Montparnasse (1931), Négatifs (1932) and Robots (1932). He worked with Boris Kaufmann (collaborator on Marche des Machines ), Alfred Zinnemann (the photographer on Marche des Machines ), Luis Bunuel and Marcel Carné (his assistants on Montparnasse ). Until 1930 he corresponded with the futurist journal Nova generatsiia (New Generation) and with Oleksandr Dovzhenko, whom he met in Paris in 1930 at Oleksa Hlushchenko’s studio. Deslaw is considered part of the so-called second wave of the French avant-garde, which included Fernand Léger, Rene Claire, Henri Chaumet, Man Ray and Germain Dulak.

Even after the Soviet borders were closed to them, Ukrainians living in Paris could maintain contacts with Lviv, which during the inter-war years found itself within the Polish state. They worked closely with ANUM (the Association of Independent Ukrainian Artists) and a number, including Andriienko, Hryshchenko, Mykola Hlushchenko, Khmeliuk and Perebyinis, sent works to Lviv for exposition in the 1930s. At the end of the twenties a group of fourteen Jewish avant-garde artists from Lviv, many of whom had spent time in Paris , formed the organization ARTES (1929-35). They held 13 exhibitions in Lviv, Ternopil, Stanislaviv (now Ivano-Frankivsk), Krakow , and also in Warsaw and Lodz in the years 1930-32. (Koliar, Susak 323)

It is clear from even such a short survey, that a cohort of remarkably talented artists from Ukraine worked in Paris in the heyday of the avant-garde. The milieus that produced them and their links to artists in these milieus ( Kherson , Odesa, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Lviv) have been little investigated. In a short overview it is impossible to examine these milieus, but a glance at one of them, Kyiv is instructive. The city is particularly interesting and important, because, as has been indicated, it radiated a distinct influence and style throughout the years 1908-30. Why was it such a powerful generator of avant-garde activity? Radical transformations were occurring in the city early in the 20 th century: population migration and growth, industrialization and modernization. It was the first city within the empire and the second in Europe to have an electric tramway (streetcar), whose image figures strongly in Bohomazov’s futurist paintings, symbolizing movement and modernity’s galvanizing impact on city life. The shock of the new, combined with the rediscovery of a rich and vibrant indigenous folk culture, seem to have provided the initial creative spark for the Kyiv avant-garde.

Another factor was the Kyiv Art School, which from 1901-20 produced many great talents, among them Exter, Meller, Kavaleridze, Archipenko, Bohomazov, Abram Manevych, Anton Pevzner (Antoine Pevsner), Aristarkh Lentulov, Isaak Rabinovich, Aleksandr (Oleksandr) Tyshler, Mark (Moisei) Epshtein, Solomon Nikritin, Issakhar-Ber Rybak, and Anatolii Petrytsky. In these years it began accepting Jewish students in substantial numbers, often with the express permission of the director and sometimes in opposition to the desires of the government authorities. From 1901-20, almost half the students in the Kyiv Art School were of Jewish background. The resulting mix of talented and ambitious artists from different backgrounds had much to do with the generation of an innovative, creative atmosphere.

At least three other reasons were important in producing the artistic ferment in Kyiv, particularly during the revolutionary years and the twenties. One was the creation by the Ukrainian government (the UNR – Ukrainian National Republic, 1917-20) of a Ukrainian Academy of Arts in 1917-18. It brought together some of the most talented professors, such as Vasyl Krychevsky, Yuri Narbut, Abram Manevych, and Mykhailo Boichuk, and many gifted students. Although this institution went through two name changes under Soviet rule, it continued to exert a strong influence on artistic life in Ukraine throughout this period. A second was the creation by the same government of the Kultur-Lige. In pre-war years, Jewish students, who saw the possibility of making a career in art at a time when many other professions were closed to them, had come through a number of academic institutions like the Kyiv Art School . Along with other Jewish artists who were escaping from the revolutionary events in Russia , in 1918 they began participating in the work of the Kyiv Kultur-Lige, making the city into one of the most dynamic centres in the world of Yiddish culture and of the Jewish avant-garde. Although, after the organization’s Sovietization in 1920, some prominent figures left, it continued its work until 1925, while its publishing house and art school survived into the thirties. A third factor was the relatively supportive atmosphere provided in the late twenties to the avant-garde by the Kyiv Art Institute. In 1928, at a time when doors were closing to avant-gardists in Moscow and Leningrad , Malevich joined Tatlin, Bohomazov, Boichuk and Palmov on the Institute’s teaching faculty. Archipenko was also invited to teach there. Its ambitious and able director Ivan Vrona dreamed of making the Institute (which was already the third largest post-secondary art school in the Soviet Union ) and the related Mezhyhiria Art and Ceramics Institute into a “Bauhaus of the East.” The connections forged at the Institute between Malevich, Tatlin, Palmov, Bohomazov, Boichuk and others have yet to be revealed, but they existed and stimulated creative activity. As a result of all these factors, the late twenties produced a final blossoming of the avant-garde in the city. In these years the futurist journal Nova generatsiia (New Generation) published many innovative works, such as Malevich’s history of art. In this way the Kyiv milieu both nourished the early avant-garde and provided it with a final refuge.

There may have been deeper historical reasons for the existence of supportive ground in Kyiv. It could be argued, that the country had long been a meeting ground of cultural influences and was therefore prepared to confront and even welcome novelty. Already in the 17 th century a distinct Western culture had arisen there, which was baroque, Latin, and relatively cosmopolitan. Ukrainian Orthodox, Polish Catholic, Jewish rabbinical and later Hasidic cultures interacted or rubbed shoulders, and continued to do so for many generations. In the 19 th century these interactions were overlaid by a Russian imperial and bureaucratic culture. As a result, in the 20 th century, members of the avant-garde in Ukraine could be of Ukrainian, Polish, Russian or Jewish origins, and might sometimes mix imperial and national, or Christian and Jewish imagery in their art, much as occurred in the various literatures (Ukrainian, Russian or Yiddish) that were produced in Ukraine . The coexistence of different viewpoints, and the possibility of shifting perspectives, is a feature of the avant-garde art from this period.

Moreover, it is too rarely noted that substantial contacts with Western art in the pre-war decades had prepared the ground for the Ukrainian avant-garde. The Viennese and Munich Secessions had a strong resonance in Ukraine . As André Nakov has pointed out, the different expressions of modernity in Paris , Munich , Berlin and Vienna were accessible to Ukrainians directly from the sources. As a result, they developed their own versions of European movements, and were from the beginning not only prepared to be witnesses to but also participants in the creation of a new art. (14) Nakov has also argued that as a result of their interaction with Europe the Kyivans had already developed a new style in the pre-war years, one that was different from that of the Western and the Moscow fauvists and cubists. (14) Exter’s early work, like Genoa (1913), Constructivist Composition (1916-18), or City at Night (c1919), when compared with Bohomazov’s Bouquet of Flowers (1914-15), Meller’s Composition (c1917-18), or Bohomazov’s Urban Landscape (1912-13) when set against Rybak’s City (c1917) indicate a close affinity.

In the years 1908-30 Kyiv produced an avant-garde with a distinct character. At the risk of misrepresenting some aspects of a varied, evolving and dynamic milieu, some generalizations about its uniqueness have been made. Its style, according to Nakov, was less aggressive formally, but structurally and compositionally more solid. (18) On the whole, the Kyiv milieu focused more on skill and craftsmanship. Bohomazov, for example, saw artists more as a superior craftsman. What Nakov calls his “modestie artisanale” (21) differed from the constructivism that developed in the late twenties and that aimed at complete mastery of technique, materials and conception. One sees a similar concern with artisanal craftsmanship in Boichuk, Archipenko, or the Kharkiv artist Vasyl Ermilov. Nakov has also suggested that the work of the Ukrainian avant-garde as a whole is less haunted by a sense of metaphysical angst and more focused on a sense of inner harmony. The Kyivans were less concerned with grand philosophical constructions or extravagant world-changing theories and more focused on researching colour and rhythm, and with exploring the energy of materials. (21) The Boichuk school, perhaps as a result of the search for inner harmony, often preferred subdued, delicately graded palette, which sometimes even suggest a quiet, “faded” colours. But a preference for “earth-like” colours were popular with a number of artists from around 1918 until the mid-twenties, including Anatol Petrytsky, Issakhar-Ber Rybak, and those associated with the Kultur-Lige.

Bohomazov in a numbr of ways typifies the Kyiv milieu. He studied in the Kyiv School of Art (1902-05). After being expelled along with Archipenko in 1906, he worked with Hryshchenko in the Crimea painting in the open air, then studied in Moscow (1906-07) before returning to the Kyiv school (1908-11). He was co-organizer with Ekster of the Link exhibition (1908) and organizer of the Ring (Koltso) exhibition (1914). He taught design in a commercial lycée, and in Kyiv’s Jewish lycée, and in 1922 began lecturing in the Kyiv Art Institute. In 1914 Bohomazov wrote “The Art of Painting,” an unpublished text that became a manual of instruction at the Kyiv Art Institute. It traced the evolution of the new painting through German expressionism, Kandinsky and Larionov, and expressed the view that art was the distinct rhythm of its constitutive elements, of forms regulated by a complex inner logic. Like Archipenko and Burliuk, Bohomazov was fascinated with the hidden energy within matter. He saw the world as dynamic, constantly in movement and transformation. For him all forms changed as they impinged upon one another. Myroslava Mudrak has written that the artist instructed his students to “penetrate the pulsating features of their environment to draw out its qualitative and quantitative living movement.” (138) She relates his idea of “internal agitation” to Archipenko’s attempts in his “Archipentura” to capture real motion in painting. (138) Bohomazov’s conviction that sensation was “a physical, tactile and material sensibility” and should dictate an artist’s method aligns him with other Ukrainian artists, who tended to focus on the real world, the surrounding human and natural environment, and on the artist’s sensations. (Mudrak 139)

Ukrainians were often concerned with discoveries that were of local provenance or inspiration. They explored folk roots, painted local scenes, and found novelty in marginalized art forms, such as handpainted sign boards, amateur carvings, embroideries, and popular icons. By validating local crafts, they implicitly challenged the division between high and low genres, or between applied art and easel painting. This democratic impulse often turned into a validation of national cultural traditions. It guided not only Kyivan artists who were of Ukrainian origin, but also those who were of Jewish origin.

The Kyiv Kultur-Lige, which added to the richness and diversity of the city’s avant-garde, existed for six years (1918-25). It immediately developed an ambitious and innovative program of work in education and culture, conducting this with great energy. The organization’s aim was nothing less than the creation of a contemporary Jewish culture for the world-wide Yiddish diaspora, “from Moscow to New York , from London to Johannesburg .” The government of Ukraine , one of whose priorities was the development of its own national culture, supported and nurtured an autonomous Jewish culture as a counterbalance to past decades of Russian dominance. The city witnessed the creation of a Jewish archive, university, and gymnasium. The Kultur-Lige supported a range of cultural activities including an art school, exhibitions, and the establishment of an independent publishing house, which put out a journal and books in Yiddish and Hebrew, including pedagogical and children’s literature. The organization soon had over 120 chapters throughout Ukraine .

The artistic section, created in 1918, included Rybak, Epstein, Aronson, Tyshler, Iosyp Elman, Rabichev, Rabinovich, Nikritin, Manevych, Shifrin, and Sarra (Sarah) Shor. Several artists from Moscow immediately joined the group, among them El Lissitzky, Joseph Tchaikov (Iosyp Chaikov), Polina Khentova and Mark Sheikhel. After the revolution, a number of these figures moved to Moscow , Warsaw or other cities, but some stayed. Mark Epstein continued to direct the Kultur-Lige’s Art School until it was closed down in 1931.

The dream of the Kultur-Lige artists was the creation of a new Jewish national art that would “fuse Jewish artistic traditions and the achievements of the European avant-garde.” (Kazovsky 91) They were inspired by the contemporary rediscovery of folk creativity in Ukraine , which owed much to the great ethnographic expeditions through the Pale of Settlement directed by S. An-sky (Shlome Zanvla Rappoport) in 1912-14. In 1913 Nathan Altman copied ancient tombstones in Jewish cemeteries, while in 1916 Lissitzky and Rybak studied wooden synagogues along the Dnieper , making about 200 drawings of their interiors for the Jewish Historical-Ethnographic Society. The motivation for delving into folk and traditional art was the search for Jewish forms, or elements of a national style, the same motivation that was driving Boichuk’s exploration of Ukrainian folklore. This explains the presence within Boichuk’s school of many Jewish artists. Some had participated in the Ring exhibition (1914) and had worked in Exter’s studio. The need to combine the international with the national, the universal with the folkloric, was felt by both Jewish avant-gardists in the same way as it was by their Ukrainian colleagues. The remarkable graphic art produced for the Kultur-Lige’s publications remains today as a record of this surge of creativity in the years 1918-22. El Lissitzky in these years illustrated around ten Yiddish publications, while Rybak worked as a book illustrator and a decorator for Jewish theatres. In 1923 the latter published in Berlin an album of lithographs depicting Jewish types in Ukraine . A number of artists from the Kyiv Kultur-Lige emigrated to Europe in the twenties, including Rybak, Manevych and Aronson. Rybak became prominent in the École de Paris, while Manevych and Aronson soon moved on to the United States , where the latter designed over a hundred stage sets.

The search for types (sometimes even archetypes) was a fundamental concern of artists close to the Kultur-Lige, like Rybak and Mark Epshtein, as well as for Boichukists like Antonina Ivanova, Vasyl Sedliar, Oksana Pavlenko, and Manuil Shekhtman, and unaligned artists like Anatol Petrytsky. They were also strongly interested in human gestures as a way of capturing the essential personality. Their works today are a portrait gallery of types and a record of the appearance and behaviour of Ukrainian and Jewish villagers and townspeople.

Like the international avant-garde as a whole, the Ukrainian - in both its Kyivan and Parisian manifestations - was visionary. It aimed at a liberation of the imagination, brought important theoretical insights, and challenged accepted ways of perceiving the world, rejecting 19 th-century forms in particular. Stylistic integrity was more of a consideration for the Boichuk school and the Kultur-Lige, both of who aimed at the creation of an art with national roots, but most avant-gardists were more interested in moments of illumination and innovation that signaled breakthroughs to new ways of seeing and feeling. These kinds of inspired moments were sought above all in primitivism, which usually meant folk art, ancient art, or the icon. Gombrich has argued that throughout history the primitive has been extolled as a reaction to kitsch in art, to what was perceived as sugary and insipid. The primitive has been valued for providing the required bracing, invigorating effect as an antidote. The rediscovery of the icon also played an important role in overcoming established tastes. It challenged the idea, widesoread in the late nineteenth century, that Western art had been making steady progress after the set-back of the Middle Ages, and that this progress essentially meant moving away from the “clumsy and ugly manner of the Byzantines,” through the “skilful, but still hard and angular style of the quattrocento,” to the polish and sophistication of the Renaissance. (Gombrich 8) But the Ukrainian and Russian avant-gardists rejected this view, rediscovering the (often refined) beauty of the icon and the quattrocento, confounding contemporary “realist” tastes with these discoveries. The Boichuk school, in particular, made a corner-stone of these views and vigorously defended them in the 1920s. Boichuk’s careful, balanced compositions, and quiet colour tones, aimed at portraying characters in a state of grace. In this respect he differed from Burliuk and some Russian artists, whose reworking of the icon revelled in the “crude” and “grotesque”. Their art was more reminiscent of popular lubok (broadsheet) prints and signboard art, with its strong colours and simple lines.

Theoretical concerns were sometimes animated by what Nakov has called a “euphorie coloriste.” (24) Considerable research and theorizing was devoted to colour by a number of figures, among them Bohomazov, Palmov, Malevich, and Hryshchenko. The Kyivans, like their Parisian counterparts, explored the possibilities of colour in their artistic practice with great intensity. Much theorizing also focused on the energy of materials. Ukrainians seem to have drawn inspiration from physical processes occurring in living organisms (the steppe, rural landscapes, city scenes). This focus on the rural, the earth and the natural world made them different from Italian and, to a great extent, Russian futurists, in whom the urban often predominated, and who glorified the city and technology as forces capable of overcoming chaos and nature. Even Malevich later in life hesitated between the urban and rural, particularly when he again fell under the influence of the Kyiv milieu in the late twenties. Malevich, Burliuk, Palmov, Bohomazov and Boichuk – all seem in the twenties to have rebelled against the tendency to glorify the urban, the mechanical, and the depersonalized, presenting instead the natural world as an alternative ideal. Although some constructivists and production artists were interested, at least for a time, in the mechanized collective, there was considerable resistance to this aesthetic in Kyiv.

Émigré artists, whether Ukrainians or Russian, had even less interest in extolling a machine age or a political utopia, particularly in the late 1920s, when these trends became part of an almost mandatory, militantly political style. Their own negative experiences of the revolution made them recoil from violence, and made them suspicious of impersonal mechanisms. In general, they viewed the drive for political correctness as fundamentally destructive. This was true not only of the Parisians, but also of Burliuk. Even though he worked for Russkii golos (Russian Voice), a pro-communist newspaper in New York , and maintained a pro-Soviet line, he was profoundly ambivalent about the direction the regime and its art were taking. His return in the 1930s to a naïve art of innocent rural scenes aligns him with the anti-urban art of his compatriots. Ukrainian artists in particular were not prepared to see peasants and workers as dumb, passive raw material that was to be manipulated by the Bolshevik vanguard. Their work, at least until the late twenties, was an implicit, and sometimes an explicit, rejection of this approach. “Stalinist” constructivism, which came along in the late twenties and early thirties and which exuded puritanical, humourless, and conformist messages, was a wrenching apart of the Kyivan avant-garde collectivity and a crushing of its creative inspiration.

Also important for this generation was what Nakov has called a “charge mystique,” “une elevation philosophique.” (15) This interest in mysticism had been an important part of Russian modernism and the Russian Silver Age. However, in the case of many Ukrainian avant-gardists the search for the inexpressible and intuitive appears to have been rooted not in metaphysical or political abstraction but in the observation of nature. If the artist was to develop a new, universal consciousness, they seemed to be saying, it would have to be done through a greater awareness of physical processes. The steppe became for them a metaphor for nature writ large, and beyond this for the cosmos. For a number of artists – Burliuk and Malevich among them - it represented animation, the interaction of numerous life forms, the life process sensed rather than understood. It also represented nature’s vastness, abundance and profusion. Nature’s powers, rather than on the machine, fascinated Ukrainians. This might also explain why the work of a number of artists – not only the Boichukists and Hryshchenko, but also Baranoff-Rossiné and Bohomazov among them - has a softer, more organic appearance, as though dictated by natural growth, rather than by the superimposition of the observer’s own dissecting analysis. The sculptures of Archipenko and Tatlin also are not inspired by the machine aesthetic but either by intuitively sensed inner harmony based on ancient forms, or by an artisan’s awareness of the “natural” possibilities of materials and of the best work produced by craftsmen who have worked these materials. Tatlin’s monument to the Third International has often been interpreted as the communist answer to the Tower of Babel , a propagandistic, militant, visionary political statement. It has not been suggested that the construction is like the splayed form of the bandura, a gracefully constructed, elegant and simultaneously functional instrument. Its formal perfection is a tribute to human skill and ingenuity and their rootedness in a long artisanal tradition, not to a visionary and unattainable future. The towen leads nowhere, it signifies balance, artistry and achievement.

Finally, it could be noted that when the art of both the Kyivan and Parisian Ukrainians is seen in the broader European context, the importance to them of personal lyricism becomes apparent. Although initially attracted to analytical cubism, many quickly moved on to a gently intuitive, subjective expression of the visible.

Although we still await a synthetic treatment of the movement, it is evident that the Ukrainian avant-garde’s distinciveness was preconditioned by its emergence from a specific milieu (the Kyiv Art School , the Ukrainian Academy of Art, the Kultur-Lige, the Kyiv Art Institute, and the national movement). It is also evident that among its dominant traits were a passion for colour; a romance with primitivism and kinetic energy; a focus on the local and elements of a national, often ancient, past; a fascination with natural processes; and a concern with inner harmony and personal lyricism. Through these traits it brought its own distinct accent to the international avant-garde.


“A. Tairov und die deutsche Regie.” Deutsch La Plata Zeitung ( Buenos Aires ) 4 September 1923 ; quoted in Vladimir Koliazin, “Gastroli russkikh teatrov 20-kh-30-kh godov v Berline: S Vostoka na Zapad, ot Tairova k Meierkholdu,” 174.

Apollinaire, Guillaume. “Alexandre Archipenko,” Der Sturm. Siebzehnte Ausstellung: Alexander Archipenko, March 1914; trans and pub in Donald H. Karshan, Archipenko: International Visionary, Washington: Smithsonian Institution P, 1969, 12-14.

---. Chroniques d’art, 1902-1918. Paris : Gallimard, 1960. [Translation: Apollinaire on Art: Essays and Reviews, 1902-1918. New York : Viking P, 1972]

Archipenko, A. “Polychrone Manifesto.” In Karshan, Archipenko, 23-4.

Exter, Alexandra. Teatralnaia zhizn Kyiv 9 (1918): 18; Ukrainian translation in Olenska-Petryshyn, 504-6.

Gombrich, E.H. The Preference for the Primitive: Episodes in the History of Western Taste and Art. London : Phaidon P, 2002.

Gorbachev, Dmitrii and Aleksandr Pavlov. “Evreiskie khudozhniki v Kieve (pervaia tret XX veka).” Egupets 6 (2000): 290-337.

Groys, Boris. The Total Art of Stalinism: Avant-Garde, Aesthetic Dictatorship, and Beyond. Princeton : Princeton UP, 1992.

Karshan, Donald H., ed. Archipenko: International Visionary. Washington : Smithsonian Institution P, 1969.

Kavaleridze, Ivan. Sbornik statei i vospominanii. Kyiv: Mystetstvo, 1988.

Kazovsky, Hillel. The Artists of the Kultur-Lige. Jerusalem : Gesharim, Moscow : Mosty kultury, 2003.

Koliazin, Vladimir. “Gastroli russkikh teatrov 20-kh-30-kh godov v Berline: S Vostoka na Zapad, ot Tairova k Meierkholdu,” 173-6. In Irina Antonova and Iorn Merkert, Moskva-Berlin/Berlin-Moskva, 1900-1950. Munich - New York : Prestel and Moscow : Galart, 1996.

Kotliar, Ie. And V. Susak. “Ievreiske mystetstvo: tradytsiia I novyi chas.” In Leonid Finberh and Volodymyr Liubchenko, eds., Narysy z istorii ta kultury ievreiv Ukrainy. Kyiv: Dukh I litera, 2005. 300-29.

Kucherenko, Zoia. “Vadym Meller,” Khronika 2000 19-20 (1997): 325-43.

Ladzhynsky, V. “Ukrainski mysttsi v Paryzhi,” Notatky z mystetstva ( Philadelphia ) 13 (1973): 17-33.

Markade, Zhan-Klod I Valentyna [Jean-Claude and Valentina Marcadé] “Kamerne mystetstvo Andriienka.” Vsesvit 1 (1990): 158-64.

Nakov, Andre. “De l’expression futuriste au formalisme construit,” 13-24, in Alexandre Bogomazov, Jampol, 1880 – Kiev , 1930 . Musee d’Art Moderne, Refectoire des Jacobins, Toulouse . N.p.: Editions Arpap, 1991.

Mudrak, Myroslava M. “The Painted Surface in the Ukrainian Avant-garde: from Facture to Construction.” Pantheon 45 (1987): 138-43.

Olenska-Petryshyn, Arkadiia. “Arkhypenko – peredovyi novator skuptury XX viku,” Khronika 2000 19-20 (1997): 486-98.

Petrova, Yevgenia. “Futurism in Russian Fine Art,” in Russian Futurism and David Burliuk, “The Father of Russian Futurism”. St. Petersburg : The State Russian Museum , Palace Editions, 2000.

Popovych, Volodymyr. “Arkhypenko u Frantsii.” Notatky z mystetstva (Phladelphia) 17 (1977): 5-18.

---. “Mykhailo Andriienko-Nechytailo.” Notatky z mystetstva ( Philadelphia ) 23 (1983): 15-23.

---. “Sofiia Levytska (1874-1937).” Notatky z mystetstva ( Philadelphia ) 7 (1968): 33-42.

Sichynsky, Vol. M. Andriienko-Nechytailo, Lviv. 1934.

Susak, Vita. “Cherchez les femmes a l’ecole de Paris.” I: Nezalezhnyi kulturolohichnyi chasopys 17 (2000): 94-105.

---. “Paryzhska shkola ta ii ukrainska filiia.” Halytska brama 7 (July 1998): 2-3, 9.

See, for example, Andrei Krusanov’s Russkii avangard, 1907-1932. Istoricheskii obzor (Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2003), especially the two books of volume 2; Margit Rowell and Deborah Wye, The Russian Avant-Garde Book, 1910-1934 (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002); and Irina Antonova and Iorn Merkert, Moskva-Berlin/Berlin-Moskva, 1900-1950 (Munich-New York: Prestel and Moscow: Galart, 1996

In 2000 the Lviv Art Gallery held exhibitions devoted to Ukrainian, Polish and Russian artists who worked in Paris in the first half of the 20 th century under the title “Nerozhadanyi rebus ‘Paryzh’,” 2000. In the same year UNESCO organized in Paris an exhibition of artists of Ukrainian descent in modern French art, 1900-1960. The National Art Museum of Ukraine in Kyiv has recently held exhibitions devoted to the Ukrainian avant-garde, Archipenko, Boichuk and a number of other figures. There have been shows on artists in Paris of various backgrounds: the Russian ( Paris , 1961), Italian ( Milan , 1971), Jewish (New York, 1975), Émigrés in Montparnasse ( Paris , 1992), Spanish ( Madrid , 1993), and Polish ( Warsaw , 1996).

For a fuller list of artists in Paris see Ladzhynsky and Susak. 

“Pid ukrainskym nebom,” Muzeinyi provulok 2 (2004): 77.

The Mezhyhiria Art and Ceramics School was created in 1921-22. It was renamed the Mezhyhiria Art and Ceramics Technicum in 1923, the Mezhyhiria Art and Ceramics Institute in 1928, and the Ukrainian Technological Institute of Ceramics and Glass in 1931.

See my “Steppe Son: David Burliuk’s Identity.” Canadian American Slavic Studies 40.1 (2005): 65-78; "Reinterpreting Malevich: Biography, Autobiography, Art." Canadian American Slavic Studies 36.4 (2002): 405-21.

The Moscow theatre director, Aleksandr Tairov, who was born in Ukraine , during the third trip of his Kamernyi Teatr to Germany in 1930 declared that the “influence is from East to West and not the opposite.” (Quoted in Koliazin 174)

Krusanov speaks of the “advance of the left into the provinces” but also admits that between January 1915 and February 1917 there were over 90 various futurist events outside Moscow and Petersburg and about 60 in the two cities. (Tom 2, kniga 2, 9). His book is constructed as a study of the dissemination of futurist ideas from the two capitals to the provinces. It shows no interest in local or indigenous agency, even though he admits that from October 1917 until the Spring of 1922 Ukraine , the Crimea and Southern Russia were cut off from “the centre of the country.” (Tom 2, kniga 2, 75) When he does turn to Ukraine , he focuses heavily on the activities of Russians and Russian-language publications, even though their activities in the twenties were marginal as compared to those of the Ukrainians.

Sonia Delauney (Terk-Delauney) was born in the Ukrainian town of Hradyzhsk near Poltava, but after she was five years old was raised by an uncle in St. Petersburg. Her memoirs, written late in life, begin by recognizing the profound effect of her childhood in Ukraine on her work. They provide a rhapsodic account of these early years. Susak has written that Delauney “painted Paris in the colours of her childhood.” (“Cherchez” 98) She studied in the academy of fine arts in Karlsruhe before moving to Paris in 1905 where she married the French artist Robert Delauney in 1910. She imitated patchwork quilt style of peasant women and was best known for her instinctive colour sense and her refusal to accept facile distinction between the fine arts and applied or decorative arts. She was known for her passion for robust primary colours, her amazing work with fabric, fashion, textile and costume design, and her colour rhythms, called “orphism” by Apollinaire.

See Krusanov, tom 2, kniga 2, 6.

The Ukrainian State Academy of Arts was created in 1917. It was renamed the Kyiv Institute of Plastic Arts in 1922, then renamed the Kyiv Art Institute in 1924.

For reproductions of these works see Kazovsky, Hillel. The Artists of the Kultur-Lige.