The collection of the Brooklyn Museum comprises over 500,000 pieces of art, ranging from ancient Egyptian artifacts to Haitian art and works by contemporary American artists.
It was here that African art specimens were first recognized as independent artistic creations, transcending their previous purely ethnological interpretation. Among the museum's permanent exhibition, you can also find works by artists of Ukrainian origin, namely: Maya Hayk, Alexander Archipenko, and Hanna Orlova.
Museum Address: 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York
Frontline Flashpoints Facing East
Maya Hayuk was born in 1969 in Baltimore, USA, to Ukrainian immigrant parents. Although she grew up in America, she came to Odessa, where she studied at Odessa I. I. Mechnikov National University. This Ukrainian-American artist incorporates her heritage into complex and vibrant abstract art, mixing traditional elements like pysanky and cross-stitch embroidery with modern experimental compositions. In her work, Hayk creates both studio paintings and large-scale murals, seeing them as interconnected and complementary.
Today, she continues to work in her own studio in Brooklyn and remains a significant Ukrainian artistic voice.
In the Brooklyn Museum, you can see her piece "Frontline Flashpoints Facing East" (2022), which features the Ukrainian national emblem and flag as its focal point. Aside from its striking colours, which convey both explosive energy and hope, the artwork's placement is intriguing. The arches in the hall break up the abstraction, allowing viewers to see only isolated fragments, adding depth to the experience.
Chana Orloff was born in the city of Stary Kostiantyniv, in the Kherson region, which, at the time of her birth, was part of the so-called "settler's strip." With Jewish heritage, Orloff experienced forced emigration multiple times: first to Palestine, then to Paris for her studies, to Geneva during the Nazi occupation, back to France, and finally to Tel Aviv, Israel. Chana grappled with a constant sense of displacement and an undefined sense of belonging, torn between the French and Israeli contexts.
The Brooklyn Museum allows us to become acquainted with the reductive yet remarkably warm and sensitive sculptures of this artist. Notably, her bust of Reuven Rubin, a well-known Israeli artist of Romanian origin, stands out. The portrait of Rubin indeed resembles an African mask, one of the key sources of inspiration for modernist artists, including Chana Orloff.
Chana Orloff (Orlova)
Portrait of Reuven Rubin
Olexander Archipenko was an innovative sculptor, the first Ukrainian to participate in the Venice Biennale and a member of the Parisian Cubist Association, Section d'Or. He was born in Kyiv in 1887 but left the city at the age of 19. After achieving success in Europe, the artist moved to the United States while maintaining a connection with Ukraine through his sculpture "Ma," monuments to Ukrainian writers, and numerous references to the "Ukrainian heart."
Today, many collections in New York hold Archipenko's works. For example, his sculpture "Medrano II" (1913-14), inspired by the French puppet theatre Cirque Médran, is displayed at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Other pieces, including sketches and bronze sculptures, are preserved in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Brooklyn Museum.
Archipenko's work "Ray" (1918) is part of the permanent exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. This flowing figure of a female body has an elongated abstract form, capturing the process of exploring the concise dynamics that Archipenko was deeply involved in.
Founded in 1870, The Metropolitan Museum of Art boasts New York's most extensive and all-encompassing art collection. It spans an incredible 5,000 years of human history, making it impossible to explore in a single day. Among its treasures, visitors can discover not only ancient Egyptian temples like Dendur and masterpieces by Vincent van Gogh but also works by Ukrainian artists such as Arkhip Kuindzhi and Ilya Repin.
Museum Address: The Met, Fifth Avenue. at 82nd Street, New York
Arkhip Kuindzhi was born by the sea in the Greek-founded village of Karasu, which later became part of the city of Mariupol. He spent much of his life in the South, studying painting in Feodosia and Odesa. Kuindzhi often returned to Crimea, drawing inspiration from the native Dnipro River and Ukrainian culture in his works.
Although most of Kuindzhi's works ended up in Russia, and in March 2022, a Russian airstrike destroyed the Kuindzhi Art Museum in Mariupol, a part of his legacy is still available for the world to appreciate. His painting "Red Sunset" (1905) is on display at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Kuindzhi was known for his skilful use of light, its ethereal quality, and how it filled his canvases. The intense sky takes centre stage in his work, creating a striking contrast with the serene landscape. In essence, it captures a feeling of reality rather than aiming for exact replication.
Illya Ripyn rhyp Kuindzhi
Portrait of Vsevolod Mikhailovich Garshin
Ilya Ripyn was born in Chuhuiv, little city of Kharkiv region. Although he left for St. Petersburg to study at 19 and spent the last 30 years of his life in Finland and Ukraine, its people, and its landscapes remained central in his art. During the October Revolution, Repin wrote a letter expressing deep devotion and longing for "sweet, joyful Ukraine" to his compatriots.
Despite the bans on the Ukrainian language in 1863 and 1876, Repin intentionally signed his work "Evening" (1881) in Ukrainian.
In The MET's collection, you can explore Ilya Repin's work through the portrait "Portrait of Vsevolod Mikhailovich Garshin" (1884), dedicated to a writer from a Russified Tatar family born in Donetsk Oblast. The portrait reflects the troubled life of a sensitive individual who, despite adversity, preserves his inner light through books. It also bears the weight of the war's impact on the writer's gaze and melancholic depth. Just four years after the portrait, Garshin, grappling with the deaths of his father and brother and his own mental illness, tragically took his own life.
Redesigned by Yoshio Taniguchi, the MoMA building speaks for itself. This museum specializes in avant-garde art, abstract expressionists, and contemporary artists. Notably, in 1979, the MoMA was honoured with an Academy Award for its "contribution to the understanding of cinema as an art form." Its collection houses works by important and familiar artists such as Kazimir Malevich, Sonia Delaunay-Terk, and Alexandra Exter.
Museum Address: MoMA, 11 West 53rd Street, New York
Although Alexandra Exter was born in Eastern Poland, she soon became a Kyivan at heart. She spent over 35 years in Kyiv, where graduated from a gymnasium, attended courses with Pymonenko at the art school, and even opened her own studio. Even during her numerous trips to Paris, this avant-garde artist was immersed in Ukrainian culture, filled with Ukrainian embroidery, icons, majolica, and clay pots.
In Ukraine, Alexandra Exter led an innovative art school and co-organized groundbreaking exhibitions like "Lanka" (together with the Burliuk brothers, Vladimir and David) and "Kiltsa" (The Ring). In 1924, she was forced to leave Kyiv and continued her work in France, later exhibiting in New York in 1936.
Exter's artistic talents extended to the world of theatre, where she brought to life the plasticity of its characters and settings. Her work "Theatrical Composition" (1925), currently on display at MoMA, beautifully encapsulates her artistic legacy and the visual language she used to express it. Her language is symphonic, dynamic, and even futuristic, evident even in what may seem like a static interior.
Sonia Delaunay-Terk was born in 1885 in Odessa, but at a young age, her parents took the young artist to St. Petersburg, where she was raised by her uncle. From there, Sonia travelled to Finland, and Germany, and eventually settled in Paris, where she began her education at the Academy La Palette. During World War II, this Orphist artist found herself in Spain and Portugal but later returned to France.
Researcher Annemarie Iker notes that southern Europe reminded Delaunay-Terk of her native Odessa. Memories of Ukraine translated into a practical dimension for the artist. Drawing from the craft traditions, colours, and rhythmic patterns she remembered from her childhood, Sonia incorporated them into the creation of fabrics for department stores, theatrical costumes, or decorations for international exhibitions.
One of the triumphs of colour is her work "Portuguese Market" (1915). Fruits and vegetables give way to colourful stripes and vibrant pigments. This was the essence of the Orphist movement, an art movement founded by Robert Delaunay, Sonia's husband.
Symphony Number 1
Volodymyr Baranoff-Rossiné was born in 1888 into a middle-class Jewish family in Velyka Lepetikha, Kherson region. He received artistic training in Odesa, which was open to modern European art styles like Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. His early works showed a fascination with vibrant colours, which was influenced by the avant-garde scene.
In 1910, he went to Paris, where he lived among artists like Sonia and Robert Delaunay-Terk. He became part of the local avant-garde and adopted Cubism as a new artistic direction.
Volodymyr Baranoff-Rossiné founded the Académie Optophonique and continued to innovate. Tragically, he was arrested by the Gestapo in 1943, deported to Auschwitz, and died shortly after.
The sculpture "Symphony Number 1" was made in the early 1910s and displayed at the Salon des Indépendants in 1913 and 1914. It's unique because it is influenced by different art styles like Cubism and Futurism, and it shows how the artist liked to mix still and moving elements and use lots of different colours, forms and shapes. This made his art style special and different from others at the time.
Woman with Pails: Dynamic Arrangement
Kazimir Malevich was born in Kyiv, but the first 17 years of his life were filled with experiences in the villages and towns of Ukraine, from Podillia to Kharkiv. This early exposure heavily influenced his art, as he was familiar with Ukrainian folk art, iconography, and the tragic fate of the peasantry during forced collectivization and the Holodomor.
Under the pressure of repression, Kazimir left Kyiv, where he had studied and taught and migrated to Leningrad. In 2009, with the agreement of Malevich's descendants, his work "Untitled" from 1916 was transferred to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, where it is preserved alongside the cubo-futurist work "Morning in the Village after Snowstorm" from 1912.
Other works by Malevich are part of the MoMA's collection:
"Woman with Pails: Dynamic Arrangement," (1912-13)
"Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying," (1915)
"Painterly Realism of a Boy with a Knapsack - Color Masses in the Fourth Dimension," (1915)
"Suprematist Composition: White on White," (1918)
"Woman with Pails" is a cubo-futurist response to an identical subject from 1911. In 1911, Malevich depicted a woman and child in a non-primitive style, with clear body features, large eyes, and iconographic tension. The second painting in the New York exhibition is distinctly suprematist. It rejects the representational mode of art and calls for the "zero degree of form" to be especially noticeable. "Suprematist Composition" should be understood through Malevich's vocabulary, where the key concepts are plane, line, and stroke. It is through geometric forms on a white background that Malevich's "new painterly realism" breaks free from dependence on external world images.
Painterly Realism of a Boy with a Knapsack - Color Masses in the Fourth Dimension
Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying
Suprematist Composition: White on White