Marian Kropyvnytskyi Personal Archive
Kyiv Khreschatyk Street 15, Ukraine
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Name of collection
- Marian Kropyvnytskyi (Personal Archive)
Provenance and cultural activities
The personal papers of artist Marian Kropyvnytskyi provide a unique window into the activities of the Kyiv Art Institute in the second half of the 1920s. Particularly interesting are texts by the avant-garde painter Kazimir Malevich, which remained undiscovered in Kropyvnytskyi’s archive until 2015. Malevich’s theoretical legacy was rooted deeply in the time he spent in Kyiv and in Ukraine, as evidenced, for example, by his use of vibrant colors despite living in the gray northern city of Leningrad from the age of 17. In many studies, the time Malevich spent in Kyiv in 1928-1930 remained a lacuna, referenced in passing as a time when he published in Nova Generatsiia or that he taught at the Kyiv Art Institute. Until now, scholars did not have a clear understanding of what he was actually doing in Kyiv. The discovery of the Kropyvnytskyi archive has filled in crucial information about this period.
During Malevich’s travels to Berlin and Warsaw for exhibitions in 1927, he sought for a way to remain abroad, as he had fallen under pressure in Leningrad. Malevich lost his job in 1926 after the government closed the Leningrad GINK-hUK (State Institute of Artistic Culture) following its merger with GIII (State Institute for Art History). The Polish authorities denied him refugee status, believing him to be a true Bolshevik, even though his work was being suppressed along with that of other avant-garde artists. A group of Ukrainian officials and artists in Kyiv came to Malevich's aid, among them Ivan Vrona, the rector of the Kyiv Art Institute, who offered Malevich a post at the institute and a reprieve from Stalin’s tyranny. Vrona was a big admirer of Malevich’s talent and wanted to make sure the artist’s work at the institute was documented. He appointed Kropyvnytskyi as a research assistant for the experimental visual arts department and ordered him to take notes on Malevich’s activities in 1928-1930. These records consist of minutes of department meetings about methodology and pedagogy, notes on Malevich’s presentations and lectures at the Kyiv Art Institute, and also five articles written by Malevich, four of which were never published. These materials provide insights into hitherto unknown aspects of Malevich’s work, and how the artist grappled conceptually with his evolving relationship with the Soviet state.
The Kropyvnytskyi papers also provide a snapshot of an ephemeral moment for the arts in Ukraine. In 1928-1930, the Kyiv Art Institute was a refuge for avant-garde artists. Its teaching staff included Vladimir Tatlin, Mykhailo Boichuk, Viktor Palmov, Fedir Krychevsky, Lev Kramarenko and Oleksandr Bohomazov. The minutes of department meetings as well as Malevich’s unpublished articles reflect their vision of the avant-garde arts at the time when it was already being suppressed in Moscow and shortly before 1930, when most the teaching staff and the rector of the Kyiv Art Institute were replaced by the painters, moulded by Bolsheviks. The documents gathered by Kropyvnytskyi were most probably secretary copies, which he retained after he was fired from the Institute in 1930. It is probable that the same materials, at least minutes of the meetings, were kept at the Institute, but its archives were destroyed by fire in the 1930s and then they were partly burnt in 1941, during the evacuation of the institute to Ufa. As a result, no documents from the Institute’s archive between 1917 and 1941 survived, aside from these copies held in Kropyvnytskyi’s personal archive.
Description of content
The Kropyvnytskyi archive is a private collection of documents related to the activities of the Kyiv State Art Institute in the second half of the 1920s. The institute's rector, Ivan Vrona, appointed Marian Kropyvnytskyi as an assistant for the research office of the experimental visual arts, headed by the avant-garde painter Kazimir Malevich in 1928-1930. The documents in this collection are mostly typescripts, though there are also two manuscripts. Kropyvnytskyi took notes during faculty meetings, Malevich’s lectures and also helped prepare Malevich’s articles for publication. The typescripts are signed with “Malevich” at the top or a date and the word “Malevich” at the end of the document. The typescript formatting varies from text to text, which suggests the involvement of several people in their production, most probably Kropyvnytskyi, Malevich’s wife, and typists at the Kyiv Art Institute. In addition, there are also two manuscripts. The first consists of Kropyvnytskyi’s notes taken during Malevich’s seminar for the students of the Faculty of Architecture at the Institute and the second offers Kropyvnytskyi’s own reflections on Malevich’s theory. Since the archive of the Institute was destroyed, the Kropyvnytskyi collection is probably the only collection that contains documents about the Institute's history in the interwar period. There are other materials, related to Kropyvnytskyi himself and cultural opposition more generally in Ukraine at this time. The owner does not wish to make those materials available to researchers at this time.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 0-9
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 0-9
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 0-9
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Important events in the history of the collection
- all closed to the public
Anderson, Troels. "Malevich, Kazimir (Severinovich)." In Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press, 1996. Accessed January 30, 2017.
Beskhlebnaya, Natalia. "Malevich's Ukrainian Square." Russian Life, September/October 2016, 46-53.
Bohomazov, Oleksandr Kostiantynovych, Eduard Oleksandrovych Dymshyts, and Kolesnikov Mykhailo Mykhailovych, editors. Oleksandr Bohomazov, 1880-1930: kataloh tvoriv. [Kiev]: Harant, 1991.
Gorbachev, Dmytro. "Kazimir Malevich and Ukraine." In Ukrainian Art Library. 2005. Accessed January 30, 2017. http://en.uartlib.org/kazimir-malevich-ukraine/.
Kropyvnytsʹkyĭ, Mar'ian, and Tetiana Filevsʹka. Kazymyr Malevych: Kyivskyi period, 1928-1930. Kyiv, Ukraine: Rodovid, 2016.
Malevich, Kazimir, and Alan Upchurch. "Chapters from an Artist's Autobiography." October 34 (1985), 25. doi:10.2307/778487.
Melnikova, Y. P. "Teoretychni Pohliady Vrony ta Khudozhno-Estetychni Zasady ARMU." Visnyk KhDADM 6 (2007), 84-90. http://www.nbuv.gov.ua/old_jrn/soc_gum/VKhDADM/2007-6/07mupaba.pdf.
Mudrak, Myroslava. The New Generation and Artistic Modernism in the Ukraine. Ann Arbor, Mich: UMI Research Press, 1986.
Mudrak, Myroslava M. "Why Ukrainian and Why Avant-Garde? An Essay." In Ukrajinska avangarda 1910-1930. Zagreb: Galerye Grada Zagreba, 1990.
Mudrak, Myroslava M. "Malevich and His Ukrainian Contemporaries." In Rethinking Malevich, edited by Charlotte Douglas and Christina Lodder. London: Pindar Press, 2007.
Mudrak, Myroslava M. "Bohomazov, Oleksandr." In Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online.. Oxford University Press, n.d. Accessed October 28, 2016. http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T009615.
Mudrak, Myroslava M. "Vadym Meller, Les Kurbas and the Ukrainian Theatrical Avant-Garde: Hello from Wave 477." Russian History 8, no. 1 (1981), 199-218. doi:10.1163/187633181x00101.
Myroslava, Mudrak M. "Association of Revolutionary Art of Ukraine." In Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press, 1996.
Noha, Olesʹ, editor. Davyd Burliuk i mystetstvo vsesvitnʹoho avanhardu. Lʹviv: Vyd-vo "Osnova", 1993.
SHKANDRIJ, MYROSLAV. "REINTERPRETING MALEVICH: BIOGRAPHY, AUTOBIOGRAPHY, ART." Canadian-American Slavic Studies 36, no. 4 (2002), 405-420. doi:10.1163/221023902x00036.
Filevska, Tetyana , interview by Budz, Kateryna, May 27, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection