Academism [Академізм; Akademizm]. Art movement based on ancient Greek esthetics and on the dogmatic imitation of classical art forms. Academism first arose in the art academies of Italy in the 16th century and then in France; later it spread to other countries. Such art schools were founded in Rome, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Saint Petersburg, Munich, Cracow, and other cities. Many Ukrainian artists graduated from these schools; for example, Antin Losenko, Ivan Buhaievsky-Blahodarny, Havrylo Vasko, Ivan Soshenko, Taras Shevchenko, Dmytro Bezperchy, Volodymyr Orlovsky, Apollon Mokrytsky, Ivan Aivazovsky, Pymen Orlov, Kornylo Ustyianovych, Teofil Kopystynsky, and Kyriak Kostandi. As advanced schools of art theory and practice, the academies played a positive role, but eventually their conservatism and dogmatism, their restriction of artistic freedom, and their narrow limits on the selection of theme and formal means (composition, color, technique) called forth a strong reaction among progressive artists, beginning in the 18th century. These artists organized their own art groups with anti-academic programs, such as the romantics, the Peredvizhniki, the impressionists, and the Secessionists. Ukrainians—for example, Taras Shevchenko, Mykola Ge, Ivan Kramskoi, Oleksander Lytovchenko, Mykola Bodarevsky, Mykola Pymonenko, and Mykola Yaroshenko, and in time the Ukrainian impressionists—participated in this reaction too. Academism has been revived in Soviet art in Ukraine and has primarily manifested itself in socialist-realist portraiture, which is photographically accurate and conforms to officially approved models.

Sviatoslav Hordynsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]

Encyclopedia of Ukraine