Wilhelm Kotarbinski, the Forgotten Genius of Ukrainian Modern

Main Article Content

Viktoriya Sukovata


My presentation devoted to artistic legacy of Wilhelm Kotarbinski, who was one of the founders of Ukrainian Modernism in painting of the late 19th and in early 20th century.

Kotarbinski was the native Pole, a citizen of the Russian Empire, and he lived for about twenty years in Italy, but spent the last ten years of his life in Kiev, Ukraine, where he painted the Vladimir’s Cathedral. Kotarbinski was close to M. Vrubel and others. Currently paintings by W. Kotarbinski are stored
in the National Museum of Warsaw, in St. Petersburg, in Kiev, Sumy, Donetsk.

Due to the fact that Kotarbinski had knowledge of the modern direction of Art in Western Europe, he combined the artistic and philosophical traditions of several countries and cultures in his painting.

Kotarbinsky was extremely popular during his lifetime, but after his death in 1922 he was quickly forgotten, probably because his painting was far from “socialist realism” which was offi cial direction in the Soviet time. But majority of Kotarbinski’s artistic works were devoted to the biblical, mythological, historical themes, and one can fi nd the infl uence of neo-romanticism, symbolism and expressionism aesthetics in his works.

Re-discovery of Kotarbinski’s painting took place at the beginning of the 2000s. The infl uence of Ukrainian culture in the work of Kotarbinsky can be seen in images of bright nature. Kotarbinsky’s painting is beautiful for its decorativeness,
sophistication of fantastic stories that are close not only to symbolism and expressionism, but also to the images of Jugendstil and Art Deco. Art Deco and Jugendstil were less known in Ukraine, but they were represented in the painting of Kotarbinski. This infl uence was especially noticeable in the plots of Kotarbinski, in the interpretations of Kotarbinsky
female and oriental themes.

Thus, I want to present a cross-cultural dialogue in the work of V. Kotarbinski, the infl uence of his painting on Ukrainian modernism and receptions of various national and religious traditions in the work of Kotarbinski.

Artist Kotarbinski Orientalism Aesthetics of Modernism Female Images in Painting
Published: Dec 20, 2021

Article Details

Art Studies