La Biennale di Venezia was founded in 1895 and it is now one of the most prestigious forums of contemporary art in the world.

As an independent country Ukraine has participated in La Biennale di Venezia since 2001.

In 1914, the pavilion of the Russian Empire, which later became the pavilion of the USSR, and after the Soviet Union’s collapse – the property of its successor Russia, was built in the Giardini gardens with the funds of Bohdan Khanenko, a patron and collector from Kyiv.

The presence of Ukrainians at La Biennale di Venezia has a significant history. As early as 1897 Ilya Repin, an artist of Ukrainian origin, presented two of his paintings at the second Venice Biennale. In 1913, Oleksandr Murashko, a Ukrainian painter, presented his works at the exhibition.

In the following years, Ukrainian authors were represented in Venice within the framework of the Soviet project.

44 cubist sculptures by Alexander Archipenko, an avant-garde artist and sculptor, were shown at the biennale in 1920. In 1924, Ukrainian avant-garde stars’ works – 14 suprematist paintings by Kazimir Malevich and a monumental painting by Alexandra Exter – were shown at the 14th biennale.

In 1930, Oleksandr Bohomazov, Zynovii Tolkachov, Ivan Padalka, Vasily Sedlyar, Oleksandr Dovhal’s works were presented in Venice, and Anatol Petrytsky’s Disabled was listed as one of the best biennale’s works.

In 1934, Vasyl Kasiyan, a Ukrainian graphic artist, displayed his works at the next biennale.

In 1956, after a 22-year long pause, the Soviet Union reinstated its artistic presence in Venice. Speaking of Ukrainians, there were Tetyana Yablonska, Georgi Melikhov, Volodymyr Kostetskyy, Serhii Hryhoriev, Oleksandr Kovaliov, Mykhailo Derehus, Valentyna Lytvynenko, Victor Vikhtinskyi’s works. Kharkiv graphic artist Volodymyr Nenado’s works were presented at the biennale in 1966.

Both Ukrainian and foreign artists have been taking part in the national project of Ukraine at La Biennale di Venezia; for many times Ukrainian artists have been invited to the main biennale project. Both the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine and private institutions.

As Ukraine doesn’t have its own pavilion, locations of the pavilion of Ukraine change every year.

Author: Oleksandra Tryanova