The Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to upend life in the nation. The rich cultural history of the Ukrainian people is also in the path of destruction. Officials and video footage from the besieged nation report that the Ivankiv Historical and Local History Museum was burned by Russian forces. About 50 miles northwest of Kyiv, it housed precious works by Ukrainian artists—including 25 paintings by the renowned Maria Prymachenko, a folk artist.
Prymachenko was born in 1909 in the Ivankiv region of Ukraine. She survived polio as a child, necessitating later operations to allow her to stand unaided. She began embroidering and painting at a young age. She later trained at the Central Experimental Workshop at the Kyiv Museum. Her works featured mythical figures from both folklore and her own imagination rendered in brilliant gouache colors. Her work was even exhibited at the International Exhibition in Paris. Both Picasso and Chagall were inspired by her inventive creatures. Picasso reportedly said, “I bow down before the artistic miracle of this brilliant Ukrainian.”
Prymachenko passed away in 1997 at the age of 88. She remains a Ukrainian hero. Her paintings graced stamps during her lifetime, and her face has even graced the country's currency. In 1966, she was awarded the Taras Shevchenko National Prize of Ukraine—a high honor. In 1970, she was officially dubbed the People’s Artist of Ukraine. Today, about 650 of her works reside at the National Museum of Ukrainian Folk Applied Art in Kyiv. While the 25 works in the Ivankiv museum are now thought to be lost, the others in Kyiv may be at risk. The Cultural Heritage Monitoring Lab at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in partnership with the Smithsonian is monitoring cultural heritage sites in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the artist community is mourning the lost works. “The loss is immeasurable,” Oksana Lyniv, a well-known conductor, told The New York Times.
The Russian troops invading Ukraine have reportedly burned the Ivankiv Historical and Local History Museum.
— Bogdan Voron (@Bogdan_Voron) February 28, 2022