Meller, Vadym, b 26 April 1884 in Saint Petersburg, d 4 May 1962 in Kyiv. Theatrical set designer and painter. While completing a law degree at Kyiv University (1908) he took courses at the Kyiv Art School (1903–5). In 1908–12 he studied at the Munich Academy of Arts. Then he moved to Paris, where he joined the Société des Artistes Indépendants, and in 1912–14 participated in the ‘Free Workshops.’ After returning to Kyiv in 1917, he worked at easel and monumental painting, graphic design, and costume design. In 1920 Meller began working as a theatrical designer in the Shevchenko First Theater of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic; he soon became the leader of modernist constructivism in Ukrainian theater design. He achieved remarkable results in a synthesis of architecture, painting, and sculpture. He was the main stage designer in Berezil (1922–34), in the Kharkiv Ukrainian Drama Theater (from 1935), and in the Kyiv Ukrainian Drama Theater (1953–61). At the Berezil Meller did his most interesting work in creating the designs for G. Kaiser's Gas I (1923 production), an adaptation of U. Sinclair's Jimmie Higgins (1923), William Shakespeare's Macbeth (1924), F. Crommelynck's Tripes d’or (1926), the revue Hello on Wavelength 477 (1929), Mykola Kulish's Myna Mazailo (1929) and Maklena Grassa (1933), and Ivan Mykytenko's Dyktatura (Dictatorship, 1933). Meller's designs were singled out at the 1925 International Exposition of Decorative Arts in Paris and shown in the 1926 International Theater Exposition in New York. In the 1930s, however, he abandoned his avant-garde style and began to work in a conservative style more consistent with the tenets of socialist realism. Meller's later work included designs for Oleksander Korniichuk's Bohdan Khmel’nyts’kyi (1939), Oleksander Levada's Faust and Death, and Shakespeare's King Lear.
Kucherenko, Z. Vadym Meller (Kyiv 1975)
Verykivs’ka, I. Stavlennia ukraïns’koï radians’koï stsenohrafiï (Kyiv 1981)
Mudrak, M. The New Generation and Artistic Modernism in the Ukraine (Ann Arbor, Mich 1986)
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]
Encyclopedia of Ukraine