HERE AND NOW at Museum Ludwig. Modernism in Ukraine 1900-1930s
& Daria Koltsova
June 3 – September 24, 2023
The exhibition series HERE AND NOW at Museum Ludwig challenges the conventions of museum work from today’s perspective. Russia’s war against Ukraine changes our approach toward the concept of “Russian avant-garde.” Many artists historically viewed under this umbrella term, including such names from the collection of the Museum Ludwig as Alexandra Exter, Oleksandr Bohomazov, Volodymyr Burliuk, and Vasyl Yermilov, lived and worked in Ukraine and played an instrumental role in shaping Ukrainian culture one hundred years ago. They either came from or had studios in such cities as Kyiv, Odesa and Kharkiv, where they created Cubo-Futurist, Suprematist, and Constructivist works.
The exhibition dedicated to modernism in Ukraine brings together some eighty paintings and works on paper created between the 1900s and 1930s. Curated by Konstantin Akinsha, Katia Denysova, and Olena Kashuba-Volvach, it was first presented under the title In the Eye of the Storm: Modernism in Ukraine, 1900-1930s at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid. The show features many loans from the National Art Museum of Ukraine and the Museum of Theatre, Music and Cinema Arts of Ukraine that transported out of the country from Kyiv. This selection is complemented by works from private collections and the holdings of the Museum Ludwig. Many of the displayed artists, including Oleksandr Bohomazov, Anatol Petrytskyi and Sarah Shor, as well as such artists’ groups as the Boichukists and the Jewish Kultur Lige, are hardly known in the West and will be a real discovery for the international audience.
The exhibition recreates the polyphony of artistic styles and cultural identities that existed in Ukraine in the early twentieth century. By focusing on the cities of Kyiv and Kharkiv, it tells the story of Ukrainian modernist artists and their attempts to establish a national school of art in a bid for Ukrainian statehood and cultural autonomy.
The modernist movement in Ukraine unfolded against a complicated socio-political backdrop of collapsing empires, World War I, the revolutions of 1917 with the ensuing short-lived independence of the Ukrainian People’s Republic (1917–20), and the eventual establishment of Soviet Ukraine. A complete overview of historical and cultural events in Ukraine at the beginning of the 20th century can be found here. Despite such political turmoil, this became a period of true flourishing in Ukrainian art, literature, theater, and cinema. Ukraine’s complex historical background resulted in a vibrant amalgamation of encounters, combining Ukrainian, Polish, Russian and Jewish elements to create a distinctly local cultural profile..
This new art-historical perspective on the period is expanded with a contribution by the contemporary artist Daria Koltsova (b. 1987 in Kharkiv). Invited by Yuliia Berdiiarova, a curator at the Museum Ludwig, she presents a new monumental glass-based installation that reflects on the question of Ukraine’s cultural heritage and the possibilities for its preservation in the face of war.
Deputy director Rita Kersting: “We are delighted that this exhibition can present an overview on Ukrainian modernism for the first time in Europe. The powerful and beautiful works from the National Art Museum of Ukraine and the Museum of Theatre, Music and Cinema Arts of Ukraine were brought out of the country in the midst of the war. Our solidarity is with our colleagues and Ukrainian people.”
Artists: Alexander Archipenko, Oleksandr Bohomazov, Mykhailo Boichuk, Volodymyr Burliuk, Alexandra Exter, Oleksandr Khvostenko-Khvostov, Borys Kosarev, Kazymyr Malevych, Vadym Meller, Viktor Palmov, Anatol Petrytskyi, Manuil Shekhtman, Maria Syniakova, Sarah Shor, Vasyl Yermilov, and others. & Daria Koltsova
The exhibition has received substantial support from the HERE AND NOW group of members of the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst am Museum Ludwig e. V.. We also thank the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Peter and Irene Ludwig Foundation, Rudolf-August Oetker Foundation, Sparkasse KölnBonn and Russmedia. ARTE is media partner.
Curators: Dr. Konstantin Akinsha (art historian, fellow at the Max-Weber-Kolleg, University of Erfurt, founder of The Avant-Garde Art Research Project), Katia Denysova (art historian, PhD Candidate at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London), Dr. Olena Kashuba-Volvach (head of the department of art of 19th-20th cent. at the National Art Museum of Ukraine, Kyiv) & Yuliia Berdiiarova (curator at the Museum Ludwig)
The Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung and the HERMANN REEMTSMA STIFTUNG, together with the Gerda Henkel Stiftung, are supporting the position of a research assistant at the Museum Ludwig.