1st Edition

Entangled Art Histories in Ukraine

Edited By Stefaniia Demchuk, Illia Levchenko Copyright 2025
    312 Pages 8 Color & 17 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores ideologies, conflicts and ideas that underpinned art historical writing in Ukraine in the 20th century.

    Disciplinary beginnings testify both to its deep connection to Krakow, Saint Petersburg and especially Vienna with its school of art history and originality of theoretical thought. Art History started as another imperial project in Ukraine, but ultimately transformed into the means of assertion of national identity. The volume looks closely at the continuity and ruptures in scholarship caused by the establishment of Soviet power and challenges a number of existing stereotypes like total isolation under Communist rule and strict adherence to a Marxist-Leninist methodology. It showcases intellectual exchanges through published work, personal contacts, and ways to resist the politically enforced methodology. Despite keeping the focus on one country, it contributes to understanding the development of art history as an academic discipline in Europe more generally. It also uncovers unknown or little-researched personal and academic connections between art historians from Ukraine and their peers abroad. Starting with the 19th century quest for the method and proceeding by disentangling the complexities of the 20th century, the authors move on to the specifics of historiography after the formal collapse of the USSR. The volume transgresses purely academic boundaries and tackles the development of the discourse in periodicals, exhibition spaces and public discussions.

    Thus, the findings will be pertinent to all interested in politics, art history, museum studies, intellectual history, historiography, and Eastern European studies.

    List of Contributors

    List of Figures


    Introduction. “A Subject very New…”: Uncovering the Entangled Fates of Art History in Ukraine (Stefaniia Demchuk, Illia Levchenko)


    I.              Disciplinary beginnings (1805 – 1920s)

    ·       University as a seat of art history (Kharkiv, Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa) (Stefaniia Demchuk, Illia Levchenko, Maryana Levytska)

    ·       Fedir Schmit’s ‘Art, its psychology, form and evolution (1919)’, Wöllflinn and the Vienna School (Stefaniia Demchuk)

    ·       “By the Will, not Chance”: Hryhorii Pavlutskyi's ‘History of Ukrainian ornament’ (1927) (Petro Kotliarov)


    II.            Early Soviet years: new media, formalism as a method (1917 – 1937)

    ·       Ivan Vrona - Kulturtraeger of the Erased Time (Tetyana Filevska)

    ·       Ukrainian Art Periodicals of the 1920s: between the Revolution and the Executed Renaissance (Yuliia Pivtorak)


    III.          Mysteztvoznavstvo’: a Socialist Realist Art History (1937 – 1986)

    ·       Love for the Art of the Motherland: Writing Ukrainian Art History after World War II (Polina Baitsym)

    ·       Soviet Ukraine’s Art History Education in a Historical Context (Lada Nakonechna, Olena Godenko-Nakonechna)

    ·       A Revival of Ukrainian Art History? Entangled paths of the six-volume "History of Ukrainian Art" (1966–1970) (Olha Novikova)

    ·       Bypassing Ideological Traps: Soviet non-Marxist Art History in Lviv (Mariana Levytska)


    IV.          Post-Soviet and/or Postmodern? (1986 – 2014)

    ·       The nation as a framework for art historical writing. Constructs: ‘Kyivan’ Rus', Baroque, Avant-garde (Illia Levchenko)

    Curating as a Way of Producing Knowledge in Art History (Through the Example of Projects at the National Art Museum of Ukraine) (Oksana Barshynova)


    Stefaniia Demchuk is an Associate Professor of Art History at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and a Research Fellow at Masaryk University, Brno.

    Illia Levchenko is an Assistant Professor of Art History at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.