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Please join the Ukrainian Studies Program at the Harriman Institute for a discussion with Katia Denysova. Moderated by Mark Andryczyk.
In late 1917, Mykhailo Boichuk established a fresco, mosaics and tempera studio at the newly founded Ukrainian Academy of Art. Advocating for art as “the national treasure and not a mere commodity,” Boichuk arrived at a synthesis of styles, drawing on Byzantine art, pre-Renaissance Italian frescoes, Ukrainian folk art, and French symbolism. In the early Soviet period, his studio emerged as a school of monumental art, with its students completing numerous state commissions for public spaces and buildings. Boichuk’s method and artistic vocabulary were henceforth applied to forging a new proletarian society. State cooperation was short-lived, however: labeled as bourgeois nationalists, Boichuk and a close circle of his associates were executed during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s, with most of their public art subsequently destroyed. Building on the existing scholarship, this talk examines Boichuk’s and his school’s commitment to both Soviet and Ukrainian culture in Soviet Ukraine of the 1920s, at a time when local intelligentsia pursued an autonomous cultural trajectory that ran in parallel to the Moscow-center and was not dictated by it.
Katia Denysova is a PhD candidate at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. Her research investigates the influence of socio-political factors on early 20th-century art in Ukraine. She is the co-curator of the exhibition In the Eye of the Storm: Modernism in Ukraine, 1900-1930s (Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, Madrid, 2022-23; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, 2023; Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels, 2023-24) and co-editor of the accompanying catalog (Thames & Hudson, 2022). She has contributed to H-SHERA, ArtHist, Dash Arts and The Art Newspaper podcast series and her articles on Ukrainian art have appeared in the peer-review journals Arts (2022), immediations (2022) and Art & the Public Sphere (forthcoming, 2023).