Michel Andreenko: Revisited

Opening: Saturday, Jun 18, 2022 4 – 8 pm
Saturday, Jun 18 – Sep 25, 2022

2320 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622

The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art is delighted to announce a career survey exhibition titled Michel Andreenko: Revisited, featuring paintings, drawings, sketches, and archival documents from the Drs. Alexandra and Andrew Ilkiw collection in its West gallery.

The exhibition focuses on noted Ukrainian modernist Michel [Mychajlo] Andreenko (1894-1982), 43 years after his last exhibition at UIMA. Andreenko: An Exhibition of Works - Oils and Gouaches was organized in 1979, featuring 50 works from the Drs. Alexandra and Andrew Ilkiw collection. Now amassing some 97 paintings, gouaches, watercolors, and prints, in addition to over 250 preparatory sketches and documents, the collection is the largest in the United States. It represents a testament to their life-long commitment to Andreenko himself, who expressed his wish to them that a survey collection of his entire oeuvre be held by Ukrainians, in this country and beyond Soviet reach.

Andreenko's own place in history was threatened by the Soviets, when approached by a Russian cultural official asking him to be a spokesperson for Russian artists in Paris–Ukrainians included. Well aware of the pattern of subsuming Ukrainian accomplishments and identity under a Russian cultural lens during Soviet times, the artist declined, and was told his place in history would disappear. He already knew that a number of his paintings were destroyed among some 728 works removed from the Lviv National Museum in 1952, under a 'special operation' designed to eliminate artistic evidence incompatible with Soviet ideology, including a sculpture from the Ma series by Alexander Archipenko.

Michel Andreenko: Revisited offers an opportunity to reignite interest in an artist whose legacy is incomplete. Theatrical set designs and non-representational work from the 1920s, surrealistic naturalism, his Vanishing Paris series–scenes of city areas disappearing to urban redevelopment, and his return to non-representation in the 1950s will be among the works on view.

The exhibition was postponed two years due to the pandemic. A catalogue of the exhibition is published and available at UIMA and through the website.

A tandem exhibition Michel Andreenko and Ukrainian Artists in Paris highlights Andreenko and work by a selection of his contemporary Ukrainian peers with whom he crossed paths over the course of his 60-year residency as a refugee in Paris. Pulled from the permanent collection, they include work by Alexis Gritchenko, Sophia Zarytska [-Omelchenko], Severyn Borachok,

Mykola Hlushchenko, Mykola Butovych, Mykhailo Moroz, Andriy Solohub, Liuboslav Hutsaliuk and Themistocle Wirsta.

Andreenko arrived in Paris in 1923, among the largest influx of artists coming from the former Russian Empire and Eastern Europe, primarily World War I refugees. Reported to be home to some 40,000 artists in the 1920s, the city's refugees were primarily poor or impoverished, having lost family, income and belongings. The exhibition reveals the idiosyncratic styles and artistic concerns of artists whose work was highly individualized, many of whom were displaced by the war. Serious exhibition opportunities with commercial potential with which to promote their work, and gain recognition in a competitive environment prevailed.

Both exhibits are curated by Adrienne Kochman, UIMA curator.