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CELEBRATING PRIVATE COLLECTORS

December 1998 - February 1999

The Ukrainian Museum opened an exhibition of lithographs by Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964), as well as oil paintings and watercolors by Oleksa Hryshchenko (Alexis Gritchenko) (1883-1977) on Sunday, December 6, 1998.

This is the first exhibition in a series entitled "In Celebration of Private Collectors." The works on display are from the collection of Zenon and Olena Feszczak and are now part of the Fine Arts Collection of the Ukrainian Museum. The exhibition will be on view through February 1999.

The Museum is celebrating private collectors, since it is often through the efforts of such individuals that museums are given with the opportunity to acquire important works of art or entire art collections. While presenting an opportunity to enjoy rarely seen, superb works of art, this particular series of exhibitions will also invite the viewers to learn about the collectors and the formation of their collections. The stories of their lives and the stories or their collections fill a cornucopia of experiences, as unique and compelling as each painting or sculpture they have ever owned.

Though diversified in individual tastes, the collectors nevertheless share a trait that is common to them all - an overwhelming passion for art. Several outstanding collections have formed important holdings of the Fine Arts Collection in the Museum. For example: 128 watercolors and drawings by primitif artist Nikifor (1895-1968) are from the collection of the late Vadym Lesych; Vadym Pavlovsky bequeathed to the Museum more than 300 paintings and drawings by architect, graphic artist and painter, Vasyl Krychevsky (1873-1952); Dr. Volodymyr Pushkar donated, among other works, paintings by Ivan Yizhakevych (1864-1962); notable works by prominent Ukrainian artists, who created in Ukraine and the Diaspora during the last eighty years, were bequeathed to the Museum by Bohdan and Oksana Rak.

This collection includes a monumental painting by Oleksa Novakivsky ((1872-1935).. The remarkable collection of prints by Alexander Archipenko, and paintings and watercolors by Oleksa Hryshchenko clearly reveal the interest and deep appreciation of art of the man who collected them, the late Zenon Feszczak. Throughout his career he made a special effort to promote Ukrainian art and artists and introduce them to the Ukrainian American community and the American public. Z. Feszczak's extensive personal collection included Ukrainian and international artists, but the collection of Archipenko and Hryshchenko represented his most important holdings. It was his earnest wish that these works come intact, as a collection, to The Ukrainian Museum.

Born in Ukraine, Zenon Feszcak came to the United States in 1949 and completed his studies in the field of art in 1958, earning a M.F.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. For many years he worked in Philadelphia, at the Philadelphia Civic Center Museum and the Port of History Museum as a design director and later as deputy director, organizing and curating numerous exhibitions in fine art, applied art, technology and archaeology. A long-time friend of The Ukrainian Museum, he served on its Board of Trustees from 1977 until his untimely death in 1993, generously contributing his talent to the design and presentation of most of the Museum's major exhibitions, such as "Traditional Designs in Ukrainian Textiles" (1977), "The Lost Architecture of Kiev" (1983), and "Masterpieces of Wood: Houses of Worship in Ukraine" (1987), among many others.

Although the lithographs of Alexander Archipenko shown in this exhibit are a minuscule representation of the sum and quality of the oeuvre of this great Ukrainian artist, each work opens a window to the unlimited possibilities which the artist had explored and the many he had reached. Upon his death, art historian Sviatoslav Hordynsky wrote: "Archipenko went far beyond the limits of Ukrainian art, which suffered a suppression of its cultural and social development due to political pressures. But, at the same time he propelled Ukrainian art toward world recognition, into a realm of universally appreciated ideas and interests." An explorer and innovator, Archipenko "...contributed to the sculptural vocabulary new options that have challenged subsequent generations of sculptors.

To list the innovations that have been credited to Archipenko is to define many of the unique elements of 20th century sculpture." (Linda Weintraub, Archipenko: Drawings, Relief's, and Constructions, Bard College, 1985.) Archipenko was born in Kyiv, Ukraine. Except for the first twenty years, all of his life was spent outside the borders of his native land, yet the influences of these young years stayed with him through his life. "He remained indebted throughout his career to the spiritual and visual effects found in the Byzantine culture of his youth.. ." (From the Dictionary of Art).

In the number of works of artist Oleksa Hryshchenko, presented in this exhibition, most are watercolors painted during the years 1920-1923, following his stay in Constantinople and Greece. This period marked the artist's most inspired and prolific span of creativity. At an exhibition of these works in Paris, one French reviewer wrote: "These wall decorations uncover a myriad of poetic wealth, where every brush stroke speaks. He (Hryshchenko) expresses the magic of the East with colors, which vibrate with deep tones. An artist, a painter of broad proportions, he is also a poet, capable of embracing and moving us with his work."

Oleksa Hryshchenko was born in Krolevets in the Chernyhiv region in Ukraine. He studied philology and biology in Kyiv, St. Petersburg and Moscow, before he turned to art. His frequent travels throughout Europe deeply influenced and to a great degree effected the style of his work. Initially, an enthusiast of Cubist painting, he changed his style to a vibrant expressionism, which he individualized by an application of exotic oriental color tableaux. In 1923 The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia acquired several of his works, thus introducing him to the American public. In 1963 he donated more than seventy paintings and watercolors to the Alexis Gritchenko Foundation, which he had established (at the present time the works are at the Ukrainian Institute of America). During his lifetime Hryshchenko was a well respected artist and personality in the international art circles and his work continues to be cherished in many personal collections and in museums throughout the world.

For further information please contact The Ukrainian Museum, 203 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10003

Tel: (212) 228-0110; Fax (212) 228-1947
E-mail: UkrMus@aol.com;
Webpage: http://www.brama.com/ukrainian_museum.

Marta Baczynsky
Public Relations

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