The exhibition In the Eye of the Storm: Modernism in Ukraine, 1900–1930s presents the ground-breaking art produced in Ukraine in the first decades of the 20th century, showcasing trends that range from figurative art to futurism and constructivism. The development of Ukrainian modernism took place against a complicated socio-political backdrop of collapsing empires, the First World War, the revolutions of 1917 with the ensuing Ukrainian War of Independence (1917–21), and the eventual creation of Soviet Ukraine. The ruthless Stalinist repressions against Ukrainian intelligentsia led to the execution of dozens of writers, theatre directors and artists, while the Holodomor, the man-made famine of 1932–33, killed millions of Ukrainians.

Despite these tragic circumstances, Ukrainian art of the period lived through a true renaissance of creative experimentation. In the Eye of the Storm reclaims this essential – though little-known in the West – chapter of European modernism, displaying around 70 works in a full range of media, from oil paintings and sketches to collages and theatre designs. Following a strict chronological order, the show presents works by masters of Ukrainian modernism, such as Oleksandr Bohomazov, Vasyl Yermilov, Viktor Palmov, and Anatol Petrytskyi. Exploring the polyphony of styles and identities, the exhibition includes neo-Byzantine paintings by the followers of Mykhailo Boichuk and experimental works by members of the Kultur Lige, who sought to promote their vision of contemporary Ukrainian and Yiddish art, respectively. It features pieces by Kazymyr Malevych and El Lissitzky, quintessential artists of the international avant-garde who worked in Ukraine and left a significant imprint on the development of the national art scene. The exhibition also showcases artworks of internationally renowned artists who were born and started their careers in Ukraine but became famous abroad, among them Alexandra Exter, Wladimir Baranoff-Rossiné, and Sonia Delaunay.

In the most comprehensive survey of Ukrainian modern art to date, with many works on loan from the National Art Museum of Ukraine and the State Museum of Theatre, Music and Cinema of Ukraine, the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza celebrates the dynamism and diversity of the artistic scene in Ukraine, while safeguarding the country’s heritage during the inadmissible, present-day occupation of its territory by Russia. After it has been seen in Madrid, the exhibition travels to the Museum Ludwig in Cologne.


 

Mondays: 12.00 - 16.00
From Tuesday to Sunday: 10.00 - 19.00

48-52 rooms (first floor)

Monday: free access
Tuesday to Sunday: included in full-access ticket. Citizens of Ukrainian nationality: free access.

Accessibility in the visit.

Acknowledgements

This exhibition has been made possible by the support of President Zelensky and the Office of the President of Ukraine. Also key is Oleksandr Tkachenko, the Ukrainian Minister of Culture, whose collaboration has enabled us to secure the exceptional loan of these works from a war-torn country.

We extend our gratitude to the National Art Museum of Ukraine and the Museum of Theatre, Music and Cinema of Ukraine for their generous loans, as well as to the private collectors who have collaborated.

Special thanks are due to Baroness Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, who has passionately and courageously promoted the project from the outset and facilitated the complex negotiations to bring these works to Spain.

The support of the PinchukArtCentre has also been notable.

Mention should likewise be made of the work and dedication of the curators Konstantin Akinsha, Katia Denysova and Olena Kashuba-Volvach and their revealing essays that appear, together with those of other research scholars, in the magnificent edition published by Thames & Hudson.

This exhibition has been made a reality thanks to the support of Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, Museums for Ukraine, the Deputy Directorate-General for State Museums of the Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage and Fine Arts (Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sport), Mastercard, Omega Capital, SITspain and Hammam Al-Andalus, among others.

Selection of images