History of Ukrainian contemporary art

Though Ukrainian art has always been an organic component of the East European culture, it nevertheless maintained a strong cultural identity, bearing many inventive features.

In the early 20th century art of Ukraine was drawn into the pan-European avant-garde movement. It served, in a way, as an outpost of this world tendency, granting the earth with the prominent artists, as Archipenko and Burliuk. It is Ukraine where their first impetus to creativity gained Malevich, Tatlin, Exter, and many others.

As part of USSR Ukraine plunged into creating Social realistic painting. The art institutions of the former Soviet Union provided excellent academic art training. Thus contemporary artists from Ukraine have a high level of craftsmanship in common.

Only in 60s it started getting rid of ideological, political and aesthetic tenets. With the fall of communism in the former Soviet Union, contemporary art from Eastern Europe has suddenly got in the limelight the international art world. But the process of restoration of Modernist achievements and reconstruction of the radical artistic language was uneasy. The time when art from these countries was associated with socialist realism was gone since the perestroika in 1987. After the perestroika quite a few artists left the former Soviet Union and went to the USA, Germany, France and other countries hoping to find better chances to promote their art. With the independence of Ukraine in 1991, this process of artists' emigrations came to a standstill and Ukraine has gained the real prosperity of the new Ukrainian art.

Since 1987 alongside with the traditional painting, both realistic and abstract, all the radical forms of art emerged – from transavant-garde painting to action, performance, installation, video-, body, and land-art. The situation in arts had changed thoroughly, moreover, not only in the creative, spiritual meaning, but also in more practical sense.

Under the communist rule "official" artists could make a living within the system of state commissions. Once they were accepted as artists by the state institutions, they did not have to worry too much about their income – modest but guaranteed. It was possible for artists to earn a living due to the system of state orders, purchase and subsidizing of cultural sector. Since the beginning of the perestroika this system of state supervising of culture gradually disappeared instead many private independent projects and organizations – artistic associations, private galleries, etc. have emerged. But in the conditions of transitional period, it turned out to be hard for art, especially for its avant-garde radical forms to become profitable and endure without state support or other forms of subsidies. Hence alternative source of sponsoring and subsiding from commercial organizations, independent foundations have emerged.

The PinchukArtCentre was the first biggest canters of contemporary art in Eastern Europe created by businessman Victor Pinchuk, in Kiev, Ukraine on September 16, 2006.  http://pinchukfund.org/en. In 2008 PinchukArtCentre Prize became the first private nationwide art prize in Ukraine with objective to produce, support and develop a new generation of young Ukrainian artists working in contemporary art.

More and more private art galleries open in Ukraine, the Centre for problems of contemporary art in Ukraine, Museum of Contemporary Art of Ukraine, and many other establishments that are dealing with contemporary art in constant strive to bring it to the internationally recognised level.

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