A Brief History of Ukrainian Art: Wartime Introduction

Seminars and Colloquia

Lizaveta German presented the initial ideas, key points and structure of her book project on Ukrainian art that she is conducting during her fellowship at the IWM. Resulting from a lecture series delivered in several European institutions over the past two years, this project is an emergency response to curiosity and even lust for knowledge about the art scene of Ukraine, often barely visible from the rest of Europe. German aims to offer an introduction to the complex and challenging art history of Ukraine, zooming in on four crucial post-WWII episodes: the 1960s under Soviet rule, the pioneering exhibitions of the early Independence years in the 1990s, off-spaces and self-organized initiatives of the 2000–2010s, and artistic and curatorial resistance after the Russian full-scale invasion of 2022.

German argues that these four episodes are fundamental for the Ukrainian art scene due to the keenly intensive search for alternative artistic representation, confronting the established art infrastructures and policies of every period, from the repressive limitations of the Soviet regime to fighting the entropy of the Russian invasion. 
German took the opportunity to discuss the following challenges: 

  1. Retaining the performative and fluid nature of lecture narration when in the form of a written statement
  2. Keeping the initial narrative concept integral and neat while deliberately dealing with selected clusters of history and acknowledging gaps in the general timeline
  3. Making a book accessible and engaging, yet insightful and scholarly, when addressing varied audiences that may include both Ukrainian peers interested in a new perspective on a familiar subject and international readers searching for a way in to a new topic

Lizaveta German, curator and art historian. Co-founder of The Naked Room, Kyiv. Co-curator of the Ukrainian Pavilion, 59th La Biennale di Venezia. In 2016, she received a PhD degree in Art History at the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture in Kyiv. In 2016 she was placed as a curator-in-residence at Liverpool Biennial, supported by British Council Ukraine. In 2015, together with Olha Balashova she published a book The Art of Ukrainian Sixties (republished in English in 2021). And in 2017 they co-edited Decommunised: Ukrainian Soviet Mosaics. Since 2014, Lizaveta has been working with Maria Lanko as a curatorial collective. The duo organised more than 30 exhibitions in Ukraine. Lizaveta will devote her fellowship at the IWM to drafting a book about key episodes of Ukrainian art history from the 1960s to the present day.

Polina Baitsym, art historian and curator specializing in socialist realism in the Ukrainian visual arts, Visiting Fellow at the IWM in July 2022–August 2022, provided a commentary.

Mariia Shynkarenko, Research Associate: Ukraine in European Dialogue at IWM, introduced the speaker and moderated the colloquium's discussion.


Fellows Colloquia are internal events for the IWM Visiting Fellows and Guests.