Mykhailiv, Yukhym

Image - Yukhym Mykhailiv Image - Yukhym Mykhailiv (third from right in the first row) among Ukrainian writers, painters, and composers (Kyiv, 1923). Image - The executive of the Leontovych Music Society Praesidium (1922). (Head: Yukhym Mykhailiv sitting in centre.) Image - Yukhym Mykhailiv: Yaroslavnas Sorrow (1910). Image - Yukhym Mykhailiv: Sea gull (1923).

Mykhailiv, Yukhym [Михайлів, Юхим; Myxajliv, Jukhym], b 27 October 1885 in Oleshky (now Tsiurupynsk), Tavriia gubernia, d 15 July 1935 in Kotlas, Arkhangelsk oblast, RSFSR. Symbolist painter, graphic artist, and art scholar and educator. He studied in Moscow at the Stroganov Applied Arts School (1902–6) and the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture (1906–10). In the 1910s he began contributing poetry to Ukrainian journals and designing book and magazine covers and illustrations. During his military service in Ukraine he worked under Dmytro Yavornytsky at the Museum of Antiquities of Katerynoslav Gubernia where he became well acquainted with Ukrainian folk art, crafts, and ornamentation. From 1917 he lived in Kyiv, where he was active in the Ukrainian Scientific Society, directed an arts and crafts school (from 1923), and headed the All-Ukrainian Committee for the Preservation of Monuments of Antiquity and Art, the Leontovych Music Society (1921–4), and the Kyiv branch of the Association of Artists of Red Ukraine. From 1920 he taught art at the Kyiv Institute of People’s Education. He contributed articles on Ukrainian art and artists to the journal Mystetstvo, Zhyttia i revoliutsiia, and Bibliolohichni visti and wrote books on weaving (1919) and earthenware ceramics (1921) in Ukraine and on the artists Mykhailo Zhuk (1930) and Hryhorii Diadchenko (1931).

A leading symbolist painter in Ukraine, Mykhailiv painted or drew over 300 works. Although he headed a branch of the Party-supported Association of Artists of Red Ukraine and occasionally created socialist-realist compositions, in most of his works Mykhailiv remained faithful to the symbolist style and principles. His paintings, permeated with the atmosphere of mystery and often attempting to echo and reflect other art forms, such as music and poetry, are dedicated to three prominent themes: mystical visions associated with the Ukrainian national revival (Music of the Stars [1919], the triptych Ukrainian Sonata [1925]), the Ukrainian past (To the Goddess Lada [1915], the triptych God's Creator [1916], Stone Babas [1919], Yaroslavna's Grief [1925]), and the illusory nature of life and the mystery of death (On the Edge of Eternity [1926], The Road of No Return [1924]). Several of his works, such as Behind the Curtain of Life (1923) and The Chained Art (1925), were seen as critical of the Soviet regime and banned from official Soviet exhibitions. Mykhailiv was arrested in 1934 by the NKVD and exiled to the Soviet Arctic, where he died. The majority of his best paintings were preserved by his wife Hanna who transported them to Germany during the Second World War and later took them to the United States. A book about him (ed Yu. Chaplenko), with reproductions of his works, was published in New York in 1988. An album of his works by Yu. Piadyk was published in Kyiv in 2004.

Marko Robert Stech

[This article was updated in 2013.]

Image - Yukhym Mykhailiv: The Stone Babas (1919). Image - Yukhym Mykhailiv: An Old Graveyard (1916). Image - Yukhym Mykhailiv: Rest Disturbed (1916). Image - Yukhym Mykhailiv: Wandering Spirit (1916) Image - Yukhym Mykhailiv: Portrait of Artists Wife (1915). Image - Yukhym Mykhailiv: Golden Childhood (1927). Image - Yukhym Mykhailiv: My Dream (1921). Image - Yukhym Mykhailiv: Chained Art_(1925). Image - Yukhym Mykhailiv: Sorrow (1927). Image - Yukhym Mykhailiv: A Fragile Childhood (1927). Image - Yukhym Mykhailiv: On the Edge of Eternity (1926). Image - Yukhym Mykhailiv: Road of No Return (1924). Image - Yukhym Mykhailiv: The Golden Gates (1920). Image - Yukhym Mykhailiv: Music of the Stars (1919). Image - Yukhym Mykhailiv: Still Life (1930) Image - Yukhym Mykhailiv: The Bronze Age (1935).

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