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.

Me­dia co­op­er­a­tion:

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.