Press Kit

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David Burliuk, n.d.
photographer unknown

David Burliuk, Man with Two Faces, 1912, oil on canvas

David Burliuk Japanese Woman, 1922, oil on burlap

David Burliuk, Cossack Mamai, 1908, oil on burlap

David Burliuk, Harlem River, 1924, oil on canvas

David Burliuk, Viktor Palmov, 1921, oil on canvas

David Burliuk, Cafe' de Nuit, 1949, oil on canvas

David Burliuk, Crimea, 1956, oil on canvas

(New York, NY) – Futurism and After: David Burliuk, 1882-1967, a large-scale exhibition with more than a hundred works, along with photographs of the artist and some of his personal belongings, provides an overview of the most important periods in the life of famed Futurist David Burliuk. The exhibition opens to the public October 31, at The Ukrainian Museum, a state-of-the-art, 25,000-square-foot facility located at 222 East 6th Street, in Manhattan’s East Village. Admission: $8.00 adults; $6.00 seniors; $6.00 students (with valid ID); children under 12 - free; Museum members - free. Additional information can be found at or by calling the Museum at 212.228.0110.

The exhibition is the first major U.S. show of Burliuk’s art in nearly half a century. Internationally renowned as the father of Futurism in his native Ukraine and in Russia, Burliuk was a major contributor to the seminal period of modernism in the early decades of the 20th century. He was the last living contributor to Germany’s Blaue Reiter movement, one of the first modernist movements in art. With reference to an exhibition at the American Contemporary Artists Gallery in New York in 1967, the year of Burliuk's death, The New York Times wrote: “the paint meets the spectator half-way, for it’s loaded on almost to the depth of bas relief to give the bright landscapes and flowers a reality that occasionally becomes a sur-reality – this is painting at its most high-spirited; as such it communicates the great vitality that obviously went into making it.”

“Many of these works have not been exhibited in New York City, so this is a unique opportunity to take a close and rare look at the whole career of one of the 20th century’s important avant-garde artists through the prism of his own collection, now in the possession of his granddaughter,” said Professor Jaroslaw Leshko, President of the Board of Trustees of The Ukrainian Museum.

Futurism and After: David Burliuk, 1882-1967, is made possible by the generosity of Mary Clare Burliuk, the artist’s granddaughter, who lent works of art and archival material from her extensive personal collection.

The exhibition at The Ukrainian Museum is an expanded version of the traveling show organized by the Winnipeg Art Gallery, curated by Dr. Myroslav Shkandrij, Professor of German and Slavic Studies at the University of Manitoba. It includes examples of Burliuk’s work during his early years in Ukraine and Russia (1907-1918), his travels through Siberia (1918-1920), his time in Japan (1920-1922), and his life in the United States, both in New York City (1922-1941) and on Long Island (1941-1967).

At The Ukrainian Museum, the approximately 70 works displayed in Winnipeg are being supplemented by an additional 40 paintings from Ms. Burliuk’s collection.

A richly illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition; it includes a lead essay by Dr. Shkandrij and contributing essays by Dr. Myroslava Mudrak, Professor of Art History at Ohio State University, and art and social historian Ihor Holubizky at the University of Queensland.

David Burliuk was born in 1882 near the city of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine. He studied in Odesa and Kazan, at the Munich Royal Academy of Arts (1902-1903), and at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris (1904). His exuberant and extroverted character was recognized by Anton Azhbe, his professor at the Munich Academy, who called Burliuk a “wonderful wild steppe horse.”

Burliuk’s art during his historically important early period was an amalgam of Fauvist, Cubist, and Futurist influences, which he absorbed and combined with his love of nature, a fascination for the forms and designs of Scythian culture (he formed and named the literary-artistic group “Hylaea” — the Greek name for ancient Scythian lands), and especially his admiration for Ukrainian folklore. Among his favorites was the legend of Mamai, a Cossack who embodied Burliuk’s own vision of bravery, self-sufficiency, and rugged individualism.

During these years, Burliuk was an active participant in important avant-garde exhibitions in Kyiv, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Munich. Dr. Shkandrij writes: “From December 1913 to April 1914, the notoriety of the Futurists reached its peak as Burliuk, [Vladimir] Maiakovsky, and [Vasily] Kamensky toured 17 cities in the [Russian] Empire. The appearance of the Futurists (they liked to wear gaudy waistcoats, sometimes painted animals on their faces and wore carrots in their lapels) and their ‘performances,’ which included drinking tea on stage under a suspended piano, drew packed audiences, scandalized many, but also won converts to the new art.” Burliuk’s life-affirming energy, his creative force, and his celebration of the new – all left a lasting impact on the history of modernism.

Burliuk’s art and life after his tumultuous early period would take him to many and varied places. During the revolutionary years 1917-1920, he traveled to Siberia, where he gave Futurist concerts and sold his art. From 1920 to 1922 he spent time in Japan painting, organizing exhibitions, and promoting Futurism. Ihor Holubizky writes in the exhibition catalogue: “Japanese modernist art history . . . has attached much greater significance to his stay in Japan [than have Western accounts] and to the enthusiastic critical reception that he received there.” In 1922, Burliuk arrived in the United States, settling first in New York City, where he lived from 1922 to 1941, and then in Hampton Bays, Long Island (1941-1967).

The inspiration for Burliuk’s later career is found in his love of vitality in all its forms – biological, psychological, and cultural. Whether he was painting his native Ukrainian steppe, Japanese landscapes, Long Island fishing villages, or the streets of New York, he searched for the energy that vibrated and flowed through scenes. They suggest the existence of hidden patterns just beyond human perception.

“He was, in the end, a worshiper of the earth’s abundance and glory as much as a Futurist scandalizer of public taste,” notes Dr. Shkandrij. It is not surprising that one of his favorite artists was Vincent van Gogh, whose impassioned vision of nature, tendered with brilliant color and vigorous strokes, Burliuk admired greatly.

Burliuk’s deep involvement in the world also manifests itself in his important works focused on ideological, philosophical themes dealing with war and the human condition, an example of which is his 1944 painting Children of Stalingrad. According to Dr. Myroslava Mudrak, “Burliuk’s immigrant perspective on the working classes of the 1930s and 1940s in lower Manhattan offers a unique, and still largely unstudied, contribution to American Social Realism.”

Katherine S. Dreier, who along with Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray founded the Sociétié Anonyme, found Burliuk the embodiment of the creative spirit. In her 1944 monograph on Burliuk she wrote of his “power of the dynamic creation … which burst all prisms.”

David Burliuk died on Long Island in 1967. That same year he was honored posthumously by being inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Examples of Burliuk’s work are in the collections of most major museums, among them the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum in New York City; the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.; the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg; the National Art Museum of Ukraine in Kyiv; and the National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto. His works are also included in numerous private collections.

This exhibition follows a major show from the National Museum of Ukraine in Kyiv, Crossroads: Modernism in Ukraine, 1910-1930, shown at The Ukrainian Museum in 2006/2007, which included a work by Burliuk produced in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Museum
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