The Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza presents until 30 April 2023 the exhibition In the Eye of the Hurricane. Avant-garde in Ukraine, 1900-1930, a comprehensive overview of Ukrainian avant-garde art in the first decades of the 20th century, showing the different artistic trends, from figurative art to Futurism and Constructivism.
The development of the avant-garde in Ukraine took place in a complex socio-political context of collapsing empires, the outbreak of World War I and the revolutions of 1917, followed by the Ukrainian War of Independence (1917-1921) and the subsequent creation of Soviet Ukraine. Ruthless Stalinist repression of the Ukrainian intelligentsia led to the execution of dozens of writers, theatre directors and artists, while the ‘Holodomor’, the man-made famine of 1932 and 1933, killed millions of Ukrainians.
Despite this tragic historical context, Ukrainian art experienced a true renaissance and a period of artistic experimentation in those years. In the Eye of the Hurricane recovers this essential but little-known chapter of Western avant-garde art, bringing together around 70 works including paintings, drawings, collages and theatrical designs.
The exhibition includes the work of leading masters of the Ukrainian avant-garde, such as Oleksandr Bohomazov, Vasyl Yermilov, Viktor Palmov and Anatol Petrytskyi. It also shows the full range of styles and identities ranging from the neo-Byzantine paintings of the followers of Mykhailo Boichuk or the experimental works of the members of the Kultur Lige, who sought to promote their vision of contemporary Ukrainian and Yiddish art, respectively, to the pieces of Kazymyr Malevych and El Lissitzky, quintessential artists of the international avant-garde who worked in Ukraine and left a significant mark on the development of the national art scene. Similarly, examples of internationally renowned figures who were born and began their careers in Ukraine, such as Alexandra Exter, Wladimir Baranoff-Rossiné and Sonia Delaunay, are presented.