In the exhibition Born in Ukraine, the Kunstmuseum Basel presents works by 31 Ukrainian artists from the Kyiv Picture Gallery, the national Ukrainian art museum. The 49 paintings from the 18th to 20th centuries, together with other works from Kyiv, are thus given a temporary home in Switzerland.
In spring 2022, representatives of the Kyiv Picture Gallery approached the Kunstmuseum Basel. Since they did not have sufficient protective space for their collection works on site, they were looking for museums abroad that would take in parts of the high-caliber collection for a limited period of time. The desire was not simply to take the works out of the country and into safety, but also to exhibit them.
With the exhibition Born in Ukraine, conceived together with the Kunstmuseum Basel, art from Ukraine is now being made known to a wider public: it opens up to visitors a view of the heritage of a European culture of which we have hitherto had little knowledge. The exhibition is also an invitation to the numerous Ukrainian refugees in Switzerland.
The Born in Ukraine project takes into account the special history of the Kyiv Picture Gallery, which - when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union - was known as the Kyiv Museum of Russian Art. Since 2014, the museum has been committed to a critical reading and exploration of its own collection that challenges the topos of a supposedly homogeneous Russian art. This year, the Russian war against Ukraine has given the project new and existential relevance.
Among the artists shown in the exhibition Born in Ukraine are Ilya Repin, Dmytro Levytsky, Volodymyr Borovykovsky, Archyp Kuyindji, Mykola Yaroshenko and Davyd Burliuk. All these painters were born on Ukrainian territory. However, many of them were educated in Russia and thus became cultural exponents of the Russian Empire and later the Soviet Union. Some of them later settled in Western Europe or the USA. In addition to these ethnic Ukrainians, Born in Ukraine also features artists with Jewish, Polish, Armenian, or Greek roots whose practice has been influenced by several national traditions. These include Ivan Aivazovsky, Lev Lagorio, Archyp Kuyindji, Kostiantyn Kryshytsky, Isaak Brodsky, and Davyd Schterenberg.
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