The Ineffable Method - Three Waves of Modernism in Soviet Ukraine: Interview with Alisa Lozhkina

June 15, 2022, 4 p.m. PDT

Maria Prymachenko, Green Elephant, 1936, watercolor on paper. From the collection of the National Museum of Ukrainian Decorative Folk Art

The interview will focus on three important stages in the development of Ukrainian art: The Red (or Executed) Renaissance of the 1920s, the modernism movement of the 1960s, and the postmodernist Ukrainian New Wave.

The Red (or Executed) Renaissance of the 1920s was the time when modernism was flourishing in Soviet Ukraine. This generation of artists was later erased from the history of Soviet Ukrainian Art. Many of the artists were killed during the Great Purge and therefore the art of that period is sometimes referred to as the Executed Renaissance. 

After the death of Stalin and the Thaw, another surge of interest in modernism took place in Soviet Ukraine in the 1960s. It gave birth to a unique wave of artistic activity when the classical Socialist Realist canon was partially revised and enhanced with new vitality and plastic experiments. On the level of official rhetoric, the Soviet art system still rejected modernism and insisted on the autonomous development of socialist art. By the time the Soviet Union collapsed, Soviet art found itself in a deep inner crisis and on a quest.

The postmodernist Ukrainian New Wave was a timely and exhaustive answer within the system to this crisis. The evolution toward a westernized “contemporary art” spared the artists the crisis and stagnation that befell the most conservative wing of Soviet art. Opting for modernity opened up new horizons and gave an impetus to the birth of an artistic tradition, whose equal in force and integrity had, arguably, not been known since the era of the avant-garde and the Red Renaissance.

Alisa will be interviewed by Joes Segal, the Wende's Chief Curator and Director of Programming. 

Alisa Lozhkina is an independent curator and art critic from Kyiv, Ukraine currently based in Los Gatos, California. She is one of the leading Ukrainian art historians, critics, and curators. From 2013 to 2017 Lozhkina served as a Deputy Director and Chief Curator of Mystetskyi Arsenal, the largest museum and exhibition complex in Ukraine.  From 2010 to 2016 she was the editor in chief of the major Ukrainian art magazine ART UKRAINE.

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