… as people tend to make idols for themselves, there is always some sort of imbalance. It is often explained by the desire to adapt a genius to the needs of a certain epoch, but, at the same time, you always begin to adore and canonize, and that is where a rather one-sided perception of an artist comes from.
“That’s the General Yakutovych talking,” sometimes Heorhiy would say referring to the military rank of his father. “I haven’t let my father in my studio for a long time because I knew he would criticize all my works,” Serhiy would confess later. Nevertheless, Heorhiy Yakutovych’s fault-finding was focused solely on himself and his family: when the works of his friends were concerned, he would often describe them as “brilliant”.
Heorhiy Yakutovych in the Carpathians, 1958
From the Yakutovych family archive Heorhiy – although everyone called him Yura – also often cried. Films, books, emotions, nature and people made him cry. It puzzled the people around him, especially those who met him for the first time – a sturdy, very high man who is weeping with inspiration on a film set.
Impulsive nature manifested itself practically in everything: Yakutovych senior could suddenly leave home and go to the Carpathians or cross the polar circle, or walk all day with his little son from Kaniv to Korsun – and that is about 50 kilometres. Such desires were called “super-tasks” and were an important part of Heorhiy’s creative life. That is, there was no separation line between art and non-art for Yakutovych. If he illustrated The Tale of Igor’s Campaign, he would tell people stories about princely families and crusades; if he took on Hohol, he would recite his works from memory.
The topics Yura Yakutovych chose to work with became the topics of his life – he had a terrific ability to concentrate on one thing for a very long time. Let’s take Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors as an example: having read this book by Kotsiubynskyi as a child, Heorhiy tried to illustrate it in the institute, then he intentionally went to the Carpathians to learn the life of Hutsuls, worked on Serhiy Parajanov’s film of the same title and finally published the book with his own design. This, however, did not end his search – the artist continued the topic of Hutsul culture in separate engraving series, for instance People of Dzembronia Village.
Heorhiy Yakutovych working with a printing press. 1980s
From the Yakutovych family archive
And if it did not take his whole life to create other works, it took decades: Heorhiy had worked for ten years on Viy, and fifteen – on The Tale of Igor’s Campaign. Although truly historical themes "migrated" from one book to another: from an early Yaroslav the Wise (1963) to one of the latest large-scale projects The Tale of Past Years (1982).
But Yura could not have brought to life certain rather romantically creative things (like visiting his house in the Carpathians and staying there for several weeks alone with two mannequins to paint the images to Vasyl Stefanyk’s The Maple Leaves off them) if it weren’t for the order established in the Yakutovych family.
But Yura could not have brought to life certain rather romantically creative things (like visiting his house in the Carpathians and staying there for several weeks alone with two mannequins to paint the images to Vasyl Stefanyk’s The Maple Leaves off them) if it weren’t for the order established in the Yakutovych family.
Serhiy Yakutovych. Family sketch: Yura, Dima and Asya, 1970s
From the Yakutovych family archive
As their close ones would point out later, Oleksandra practically gave up her own creative potential for the domesticity. Asya Pavlovska taught children at the Shevchenko State Art School, fulfilled government orders and illustrated books for the Rainbow Publishing House, mainly for children. This way the family of painters had regular income. At the same time, Asya spent a lot of time taking care of their children and everyday chores.
Asya Pavlovska and Heorhiy Yakutovych (at the left), 1950s
From the Yakutovych family archive Asya Pavlovska in the Carpathians, 1980s
From the Yakutovych family archive Oleksandra Pavlovska was highly respected in the circle of the Yakutovych’s friends. She had friendly relationships with Serhiy Parajanov – often more trusting than those between the film director and Heorhiy himself. It is known that Asya visited Parajanov in prison in the 1970s, and the letters from Serhiy from that period are still in Pavlovska’s archives. They say that Asya never let anyone read them, even Parajanov’s ex-wife Svitlana Sherbatiuk .
Oleksandra had some other type of relationships with Hryhoriy Havrylenko , Yura Yakutovych’s best friend. She could debate with him for hours about anything, and their lively discussions about art were especially interesting.
This is the atmosphere – that of Heorhyi’s unceasing search, Oleksandra’s hard work and inspiring conversations with their friends who were also artists – that the couple’s two sons Serhiy and Dmytro grew up in. Both children were “tempered” by living in their father’s place in the Carpathian Mountains, were taught art by their mother-pedagogue and got the idea of the context of that time’s intelligentsia – because they practically lived in it.
Serhiy chose the path of a painter when children usually learn to read and write. When he was four, his father took him to Kozintsev’s film Don Quixote that impressed the boy so much that he could not go to sleep at night and had a slight fever.
“My father once told me: “Stop loafing about and just paint it.” I responded: “But how can paint it all?” He then showed me a small reproduction from Don Quixote lithograph by Picasso and said: “This man is a great painter, and you paint just like him.” – “If that so, I guess I can do it, too…” From that moment, I think, my life as a painter has begun.”
Dmytro had a different story. Since the early childhood he showed real talent in music and mathematics, which was extraordinary for his age. The year 1971 was life-changing: the family visited the shooting location of Leonid Osyka’s Zakhar Berkut where Heorhiy Yakutovych was an art director. The family got into a car accident after which Asya and Dmytro lost their hearing almost completely. This meant an absolute alternation of the life vector for the boy and the need to search for a new path. As an adolescent, Dmytro started painting a lot, taking private lessons from his parents and their friends – in particular Hryhoryi Havrylenko and Oleksandr Hubarev .
I tried all techniques in my parents’ studio in Lavra: water-colour, gouache, but I understood that none of them was mine. Only when I took a brush and oil colours in hand, things went as smoothly as if buttered. I was extremely fascinated by the Kyiv theme during the 1980s – and I had been developing it for three decades.”
“Yes, Dimka has suddenly began to paint. They say it doesn’t look like anything but it’s very beautiful. It reminds of Japanese a little. An extremely pure colour, accuracy and complete originality due to “not knowing” anything about the perspective, proportions and so on.”
After another road accident in the 1980s, Dmytro became disabled. Since that time, he would often participate in different contests and exhibitions for people with disabilities, but in the family circle his creative faculties were seen differently – as enhanced and extraordinary manifestations of music embodiment in the format of painting.
So the life of two brothers took different paths: Dmytro fulfilled himself as a painter bringing the sound of colour to the forefront, and Serhiy, although he did turn to painting in some periods, approved himself mainly as a graphic artist.
Serhiy Yakutovych emerged to prominence virtually from the very beginning of his artistic journey. Teachers highly appreciated him, his works at the group exhibitions were always the focus of attention, and biographies of his friends from the 1970-80s worth separate rather underground sketches.
Mykhailo Illienko, Serhiy Yakutovych and Yuriy Neyman, 1971
From the Yakutovych family archiveв
Serhiy Yakutovych’s Kyiv circle:
an artist of Ukrainian origin who moved to Paris in 1988, where had become very popular.
a hyperrealistic artist. He studied in the Kyiv Art Institute during the 1970s and movet to Moscow at the end of the 1980s, where he live and work now.
a hyperrealistic artist and an author of several books. He studied in the Shevchenko State Art School with Serhiy Yakutovych. He entered the Moscow State University in the 1970s and from that time lived in Moscow.
a Ukrainian artist who is most famous for his satirical plays. He studied in the Kyiv Art Institute during the 1970s.
a hyperrealistic artist who studied in the Kyiv Art Institute during the 1970s. He moved to Moscow in 1984 where live and work now.
Serhiy Yakutovych started his education at the Moscow Polygraphic Institute. However, because of unfavourable climate and, consequently, health problems, he had to go back to Ukraine in three years and continue studying at the Kyiv Art Institute. His father’s shadow was hanging over him during both his returning to the native city and studying at the Kyiv Art Institute – Heorhiy Yakutovych was already an acknowledged figure in the 1970s whose works were admired and whose talent was respected even in bureaucratic circles. On the other hand, it was sure to provide him with certain preferences.
“You may congratulate me – I’m the third-year student of the Kyiv Art Institute, the studio of book graphic art and so on […]. It turned out to be very simple. I have been transferred and I’m already a student. Although I’m still a student of the Moscow Polygraphic Institute because we didn’t bring any documents. The rector said: “Let him start studying as soon as he arrives, and we will fix the documents and other issues later.” Kyiv is known for its fly-by-night operations. When I come, all I have to do is submit my record book and medical certificate allowing me to study.”
However, in personal and creative aspects, the importance of Serhiy’s father in the Ukrainian art world of that time was more like an incentive for his own development: to be no worse, not to lower the bar and, at the same time, preserve the individuality and detachment from the “dynastic” pressure. “I’m a shadow of my father,” Serhiy used to say and continued working hard surpassing himself over and over again.
What was the nature of this Serhiy’s criticism? One of the reasons was his artistic concentrations: while Yakutovych senior defined his art theme exactly and got as deep in it as he could, Serhiy at first stages was defocused and could not determine the vector for his creative search. His 1970-80s’ works impressed with their craftsmanship and fresh view and were highly evaluated. These include the illustrations of Aleksey Tolstoy’s Peter I, Pushkin’s Poltava, epic poem Kalevipoeg, Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, Oles Honchar’s Perekop, TV and Kyiv Citizens series. However, these things were very motley, so he was restless in searching for something “his”.
Serhiy would finally find the outlines of “his” themes in the late 1990s and early 2000s: these would be the search for symbols of statehood and nationality, images of national heroism, Cossacks in particular. That was the time that he started working as an art director in such films as Yuriy Illienko’s Prayer for Hetman Mazepa, Vladimir Bortko’s Taras Bulba, Oles Sanin’s The Guide and a range of other films where Yakutovych fulfilled his desire of dynamism.
There was another theme that Serhiy did not see as a separate element of his works for a long time.
Pavlo Gudimov was once viewing my works and noticed a pretty strong presence of women there. Yes, if you take all I’ve done, there are a lot of female images. What can I say, I’m an illustrator – and almost all texts I’ve dealt with are about love…
Fragment of the Homin film, 2009. GudimovArtProject production
From Ya Gallery Art Center archive
Serhiy met his future wife Olha Diomina when studying in Moscow. When Yakutovych had to move back to Kyiv, Olha followed him, having worked for some time in Minsk before that. Olha, who was fond of classic Russian literature since being a child, illustrated a lot of Pushkin’s and Chekhov’s books during the first period of her creative activity. She was also engaged in designing books for children. This is, by the way, a poorly highlighted topic: the tendencies of book illustration for a long time were that children’s literature was mostly women’s trade.
At the beginning of the 1990s, Olha Yakutovych started cooperating with the Japanese publishers: she designed Slavic folk tales in a very original and simple manner. As a result, at some point Olha as an illustrator was much more noted and needed in Tokio than in Kyiv.
Olha and Serhiy Yakutovych. 1970s
From the Yakutovych family archive
Olha Yakutovych. 1970s
From the Yakutovych family archive
Olha Yakutovych. Still Life. 1992, autolithography
From the Yakutovych family archive
Olha Yakutovych. From the Beach series
From the Yakutovych family archive
Olha gave birth to their son Anton in 1975. On the one hand, it was not surprising that he became a painter as well. On the other hand, the confrontation between himself and the dynasty that was already seen in Serhiy Yakutovych’s biography only got worse in the third generation.
Heorhiy and Anton Yakutovych. 1985
From the Yakutovych family archive Anton was growing up during the last stages of the Soviet time when “Western” became the synonym of “cool”. Yakutovych junior created a rock band with his friends from the art school and went through Beatlemania – pretty much unavoidable things for a creative teenager of that time.
Anton Yakutovych. Sny rock band: Oleksandr Khodchenko, Anton Yakutovych, Mykola Kishchuk, Taras Burlin, 1990s
From the Yakutovych family archive
When it came to visual art, Anton knew it was painting almost at once. Graphic art might have been easier for him, especially after the school of his father and grandfather. But Anton saw a challenge for himself in painting, a way to get out of the comfort zone which is often necessary for a creative act.
It was so hard for me to give up on everything. As Anton Chekhov once said: “The most important thing in life is to change it one day.” Everything was simple for me in Ukraine. There were my friends – beautiful, lovely and brilliant people. There were my parents – brilliant as well. Everything has been handed on a plate to me. Why did it take me the whole year to make one painting? Because everything was calm and quiet. I had to become an independent painter, I had to become myself and come as a free and talented person.
So in 2002, Anton together with his wife Berangere Maximin a French composer, moved to Paris. They met when Serhiy Yakutovych worked in Spain in the late 1990s and Anton visited him. Berangere asked him if he saw the film Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, and Yakutovych junior told her that he was practically a grandson of that motion picture.
Anton fulfilled some projects together with Berangere: they had a joint visual and acoustic installation Anamorphosis in the painter’s house in Kyiv in 2002. Yakutovych junior also designed the covers for some of his wife’s albums.
Berangere Maximin and Anton Yakutovych in Kyiv. 2002
From the Yakutovych family archive
The form, colours and dynamics of Anton’s works contrasted the art of his parents, the exterior embodiment acquired the new sound. However, the “nucleus” and the familiar features of the Yakutovych family are still there: the reality comes extremely detailed and as if accurately drawn, which is the consequence of the “graphic” perspective. And the striving of senior Yakutovych family members for creating new myths – in case of Anton – has gained the stylistics of the so-called “magical realism.”
Anton’s works found success in the European countries: the painter had exhibitions in many countries and cooperated with the London Gallery Peace and Colour.
It is, perhaps, very illustrative that although success of three artists from the Yakutovych “vertical” was very different, it was on the cutting edge of the epoch each one of them lived in. Heorhiy acquired such a high status that it was impossible to outmatch – his elder son called it “the myth about father”; Serhiy covered the widest spectrum of themes and creative ideas; and Anton considerably expanded the geography of his artwork and gained the gallery recognition.
- Sergei Chepik
Oleksandra Pavlovska Is Born
Asya (as her relatives and friends called her) was born December 11 in Kyiv. Her mother, Nina Manucharova, was a painter and an architect, and one of her works was designing the Dynamo Stadium. Asya’s father, Heorhiy Pavlovskyi, served in the White Guard for a long time and occupied ministerial positions during the Soviet period. Her grandfather, Oleksandr Pavlovskyi, was a microbiologist and a surgeon.
When studying at school, Asya started singing in the church choir which caused a lot of problems at that time, but her father helped her solve them.
Heorhiy Yakutovych Is Born
Heorhiy Yakutovych was born February 14 in Kyiv. Since the early childhood, the family and friends called him Yura, so the painter was referred to by this very name in private letters, memoirs and interviews.
Viacheslav Yakutovych, Yura’s father, worked as a journalist in Kyiv for a rather long period, but then he entered the Army in the early 1930s. Since that time, the Yakutovych moved from place to place: Moscow was replaced by Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), the latter – by Estonia. After the Second World War, Yura with his mother Praskovia Kotova and brother Ihor went back to Kyiv, while the father with his new family stayed in Leningrad. It was Kyiv that Heorhiy Yakutovych began to pursue art in.
Heorhiy and Oleksandra Start Studying at Kyiv Art Institute
Yura and Asya met in the Kyiv Art Institute. They studied at the faculty of graphic art in Ilarion Pleshchynskyi’s studio, and some of their groupmates included Hryhoriy Havrylenko, Oleksandr Danchenko, Volodymyr Kutkin, Nadiya Lopukhova, Heorhiy Malakov – landmark names in the development of the new Ukrainian graphic art.
Yakutovych and Pavlovska would soon start dating and get married in December 1951.
Heorhiy entered a postgraduate programme at the Kyiv Art Institute and taught students composition and book graphic art until the beginning of the 1960s. Yakutovych quit as a mark of protest after his best friend Hryhoriy Havrylenko was dismissed from the institute.The beginning of the 1950s was still the Stalinism era: the social realism doctrine was dominant in art, academic education and exhibitions were closed for the influences from the outside. And this was the environment in which the artists who would later introduce changes to the political and art life of the USSR started their creative activity.
Olha Diomina (Yakutovych) Is Born
Olha was born on September 1 in Russia in Nizhny Tagil city in the metallurgist’s family. Back in school, Olha was fond of classic literature: Pushkin, Chekhov, Hohol – later to become the basis of her creative pursuing. Olha entered the Moscow Polygraphic Institute where she met her future husband – Serhiy Yakutovych.
Serhiy Yakutovych Is Born
As soon as they had gone back home, Asya gave birth to Serhiy on November 21. The boy grew up in the creative circle of parents’ friends, found interest in the art theme and soon started painting himself. When he was ten and his family stayed in Kaniv for the summer, Serhiy became involved in the shooting of Andriy Tarkovskyi’s film Ivan’s Childhood – he played a little Ivan. A year after, his father was to participate in the filming of Serhiy Parajanov’s Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors and took Serhiy with him. Since the early childhood, he was especially interested in heroic theme – knights and musketeers, Don Quixote and folk epos.
Heorhiy Yakutovych’s First Trip to the Carpathians
The Carpathian Mountains were a closed territory in the early 1950s: you needed to have a permit to get there. The Carpathians were a longed-for dream for Heorhiy Yakutovych since he read Kotsiubynskyi’s Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors as a child and started dreaming of learning the Hutsul culture and illustrating this story.
This trip was possible thanks to Asya’s father who had ties to the government authorities. The couple was allowed in the Carpathians where they did the institute’s practical training for a month and made sketches for their future works. Asya was already pregnant with Serhiy at that time.
6th World Festival of Youth and Students in Moscow
The second half of the 1950s became a breath of fresh air for many painters: foreign artists’ works would be demonstrated at cultural events more often and some censored themes became more open. At that time, such liberal views were more inherent to Moscow than Kyiv, so painters went there to learn the latest news and gain some knowledge. Heorhiy Yakutovych did it as well: he visited the youth festival and saw the graphic drawings of Mexican authors, particularly Diego Rivera, which was a turning point for him. The Mexican folklore works impressed Heorhiy so much that he completely changed his PhD paper – the illustrations to Kotsiubynskyi’s Fata Morgana.
During this period, Heorhiy revealed another movement which was very close by its idea to the Mexican art – Boichukism that was only paving its way in the progressive circles. So these were the two landmark art movements that Yakutovych would use in his future works.The period from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s is traditionally considered to be the “thaw” – loosening of totalitarian control in both art and politics. During this time, painters had a slightly wider access to the foreign artists’ works as well as more freedom to express alternative views. At the same time, most intelligentsia representatives understood the conditionality of the “thaw”: repressions and censorship still existed, although in less radical forms then before. For example, Heorhiy Yakutovych had a small “emergency suitcase” – in case of an unexpected arrest. However, no one ever came to arrest him, which was a little disappointing to him.
Dmytro Yakutovych Is Born
Dmytro was born on the 9th of November, when his mother was six months pregnant. Dmytro’s parents truly fought for his life. The boy was very talented and special: he had a unique ear for music, he could easily play longhair as well as impressed everyone with his mathematical skills, for instance, it took him a couple of seconds to count big numbers in head.
Heorhiy Yakutovych Meets Vladimir Favorsky
The 1950s were not the best years for the book industry: painters illustrated only some parts of texts, never designing the whole book. Vladimir Favorsky – a Russian graphic artist who once said “I create a book rather than illustrate works” – stood out against this background. Favorsky elaborated his own theories regarding the book architecture. Heorhiy Yakutovych considered him to be his mentor and distantly adopted a complex philosophy of how one should work with books.
So when Heorhiy finally met Favorsky in Moscow in 1961, it made a great impression on him and gave him an impulse to improve in graphic design. It was also important for Yakutovych to learn xylography (woodcut) which was not very common in Ukraine in those days, and Favorsky was the master of it.
Premiere of Film Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors
Heorhiy Yakutovych spent almost whole 1963 and 1964 on the production set of Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors in the Carpathians. The making of this motion picture involved a lot of talented people of that time: director Serhiy Parajanov, operator Yuriy Illienko, actors Ivan Mykolaichuk, Larisa Kadochnikova and Tatiana Bestayeva, poet Ivan Drach and others.
The shooting process allowed Heorhiy to feel the Hutsul culture deeper as well as to “refresh” his art style. This is how the painter himself described his impressions from working on the film in his Graphics and Cinema essay: “On sharpening our skills at first at the art school and then on our own, we often lose the sense of immediate perception and find ourselves helpless when it comes to reality. When getting into cinematography, I was hoping to become “purified” from acquired skills and be able to find a true artistic interpretation where a line, a spot and a form are unified in a manner that renders the music of the nature.”
Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors became the landmark film of its time not only because of the special for the Soviet period genre of “poetic cinema”, but also because of the scandalous opening night of September 4, 1965. After the screening, Ivan Dziuba , Vasyl Stus and Viacheslav Chornovil called on everyone who did not agree with the series of political arrests of the Ukrainian intelligentsia to get up. The protest participants would be later oppressed, and Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors would be kept on a shelf for a long time.
Book Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors Is Published
It took Heorhiy Yakutovych much more than a year or two to approach the illustration of Kotsiubynskyi’s story: the painter created the book layout as a term paper back in 1950; he then wanted to take the same topic for his graduation paper, but he was refused and instead advised to choose something from the Russian literature.
After the graduation, Heorhiy started to have doubts whether he was ready for such an important work for him. So Yakutovych decided to put off the illustration of Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors until he was sure he could do it. The painter had been improving his technique for a long time: he was learning the Hutsul culture, he visited the Carpathians and deepened his understanding of the philosophy of this story. Heorhiy made up his mind to make the first engravings in 1962, but he had to take a break – Serhiy Parajanov invited him to help shoot the film based on this very story.
After working on the motion picture, Yakutovych remade the book conception almost completely – from the structure to the number of pictures of characters’ images. Two years after the film premiere, he had his book published by the Dnipro Publishing House in Kyiv.
Yakutovych’s Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors became very important not only for the author, but for most book graphic artists of the 1960s. Because, during this whole decade, illustrators sought to develop the so-called “comprehensive book” – the one with a strict, concise and ensemble-like structure, subtle interaction between the text and visual design and without excessive stylization. And Yakutovych’s Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors really embodied this phenomenon that marked the climax of this search.
House in the Carpathians
The Carpathian theme fascinated Heorhiy Yakutovych so much that he bought a house in Dzembronia village in the late 1960s. Heorhiy sort of “ran away” from the mundane everyday life when he needed to finish some project; he went there with his family and invited close friends to that house; sometimes he would gather the creative intelligentsia of that time who also began to discover the Carpathians for them.
The Hutsul life was not “exotica” to Yakutovych, it was an alive and continuous dipping into the world of the inhabitants of the Carpathian Mountains. The painter was inspired by people around there and made a lot of friends. After the Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors book had been published, Heorhiy thought for some time that he exhausted the Carpathian topic. However, he returned to it with renewed enthusiasm after just several years – he started creating the People of Dzembronia Village engraving series. He had been working on it from the 1970s to the 1990s.
Serhiy Yakutovych Studies at Moscow Polygraphic Institute
Having graduated from the art school, Serhiy Yakutovych entered the faculty of fine arts at the Polygraphic Institute. This is where he met his future wife Olha and became skilful in book design.
Alla Horska Is Killed
After a series of arrests of the Ukrainian intelligentsia in the 1960s, the murder of the painter Alla Horska marked a decisive end to the hopes of having an alternative position in art and social life.
Starting from 1965, a range of artists, some of them being Alla Horska, Ivan Dziuba, Heorhiy Yakutovych, Oleksandr Danchenko, Ivan Drach, Lina Kostenko, the Svitlychnyi and many others, signed numerous letters and sent them to the Supreme Court in defence of the arrested intelligentsia. Alla Horska, among other things, morally and materially supported former political prisoners and participated in protests. At the same time, Horska’s art was absolutely consistent with the official requirements, and her monumental works were installed in many cities throughout the country. Political actions in her case could not be treated solely as artistic reproaches, which could be another reason for the government to want her dead.
After Alla’s death, the dissident movement in Kyiv gradually faded away, and the next wave of arrests in 1972 virtually culminated the government’s open campaign against the Ukrainian artists.These years would be later called the “period of stagnation” strongly associated with Leonid Brezhnev’s policy. The situation of the Ukrainian intelligentsia got much worse – mass arrests of artists and activists, common cases of murder and violence against those who disagreed with the party line. Most painters learned to walk a fine line between an unexpressed discord and their own view of art.
Shooting of Zakhar Berkut
The second film where Heorhiy Yakutovych was an art director was also based on the Carpathian theme. The main hero of Zakhar Berkut was Ivan Mykolaichuk with whom Yakutovych already worked in Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors.
As Heorhiy recollected, the visual imagery of Leonid Osyka’s film depleted him, although he was happy with the result. Right after the shooting, Yakutovych was ordered to design the Zakhar Berkut book, which he did in 1972. However, he was not satisfied with it: the topic seemed exhausted and not much time had passed after the film to have a fresh view. Yakutovych carried the emotions he had already lived through when making the motion picture to a completely different work – The Tale of Past Years.
The filming also brought ill luck to the Yakutovych: the family got into a serious car accident in the mountains resulting in Dmytro Yakutovych’s and Asya Pavlovska’s hearing loss.
Premiere of Andriy Tarkovskyi’s Solaris
Andriy Tarkovskyi’s films had a great impact on the Kyiv artists: far from everyone loved or highly evaluated them, but practically everybody discussed, argued about and criticized them. For instance, Heorhiy Yakutovych’s biggest concern was about Andrei Rublev where villagers ate potatoes – which could not happen in the medieval Rus.
Nevertheless, the opening nights of new movies were always in the limelight.
Here is how Serhiy commented the screening of Solaris in the letter to his wife Olha: «“I watched Solaris yesterday and, as it is always the case with me when it comes to Tarkovskyi, it was the second time that he seemed to me “a source of human existence”. I was up all night. I’m all filled with consciousness of ‘vita homme’ (human life) rather than just impressions.”
Serhiy Parajanov Is Arrested
Serhiy Parajanov’s arrest came as a shock to the circle of the Kyiv artists. The process began in December 1973, and the formal accusation was Parajanov’s homosexuality, which was punishable by criminal law in the USSR. However, many researches point out the political reasons for this prosecution.
The director was sentenced to confinement and released from prison in 1977 being prohibited to live in Ukraine. Parajanov experienced the censorship oppressions for quite some time after that and could not make new films.
Serhiy Yakutovych Returns to Kyiv and Starts Studying at Kyiv Art Institute
Having finished the third course, Serhiy left the Moscow Polygraphic Institute due to health problems and returned to Kyiv. He continued studying at the faculty of graphic art of the Kyiv Art Institute where he was highly appreciated by professors. The painter decided to illustrate Aleksey Tolstoy’s novel Peter I as his graduation paper – it was at that time that Yakutovych found it interesting to work with epic and large works.
Anton Yakutovych Is Born
Serhiy’s wife Olha gave birth to Anton on the 10th of February. The boy continued the creative path of his parents and showed his abilities from the very childhood. Besides the visual art, he was also into music. While studying at the art school, Anton with his friends was carried away by the Western music that was popular at the time, and later they created the Dreams rock band.
The Tale of Igor's Campaign Is Published
The 1970s were especially productive for Heorhiy Yakutovych: he illustrated the greatest number of books during this decade. The Tale of Igor's Campaign – a story about the ancient Rus – became the pinnacle of this period. While preparing, Heorhiy spent a lot of time in archives, studied thoroughly the history and culture of those days. The painter got so deep into this topic that he reproduced a complex genealogy of Kyiv dukes or could easily recite fragments from the texts. That is why engravings to The Tale of Igor's Campaign were a true visual research of that time.
All-Union Youth Exhibition in Tashkent
In the Soviet times, painters put many hopes on the annual group exhibitions which represented the topical tendencies in art and made it possible to see one’s artwork in the context of many other works. The Moscow-based exhibition Young Country was the most significant for young painters. It covered so much space that it was even hard to go round it. Although these exhibitions were important, the expositions in smaller cities, far from the Union’s centre, were often more interesting. For example, here is how Serhiy Yakutovych compared the 1980 All-Union Youth Exhibition in Tashkent and the Young Country exhibition held in Moscow a year after:
«The Young Country exhibition is final for us with the Tashkent exhibition held just a year ago. And if there were many bright, new and controversial things in Tashkent, Moscow seemed to have filtered out everything in a positive and integral way. […] The exhibition [Young Country] looks more like a parade of unfulfilled dreams.».
It is worth mentioning that Serhiy obtained a graphic art prize in Tashkent.
The Tale of Past Years Is Published
Illustrating The Tale of Past Years was the last large-scale book designing work for Heorhiy Yakutovych. From then on, the painter would mainly develop the series of separate engravings. The Tale of Past Years continued several themes at once for Heorhiy: primarily by referring to the epic genre and ancient Ukraine that could be first seen in Ivan Kocherha’s play Yaroslav the Wise (book illustration – 1962), and later in The Tale of Igor’s Campaign. Furthermore, a lot of things remained unfulfilled for Heorhiy since the shooting of Zakhar Berkut: the painter felt he was not ready to incarnate certain ideas of heroism and national roots from Ivan Franko’s book of the same title, so he decided to leave them for future endeavours. And it was The Tale of Past Years that they were finally embodied in.
Heorhiy Yakutovych Receives His First Shevchenko National Prize
The Yakutovych did not give too much weight to the prizes they received, but they did receive them rather often. Thus, Heorhiy was awarded the Shevchenko National Prize twice which is not that common. The first time Yakutovych was honoured with it for his graphic art (for a range of books he created) in 1983; and in 1991, the painter won the prize as a part of the creative team of Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors – at the time this film was fully rehabilitated.
Hryhoriy Havrylenko Dies
Hryhoriy Havrylenko – a painter and a graphic artist – was sort of a “mark” of his time. His well-rounded biography, where the dismissal from the Art Institute was a big deal, at the same time demonstrates a rather typical image of an opposition-leaning Kyiv artist. This type of an artist creates quietly, does not enter into a direct conflict, and yet does not stick to the conformist line. Hryhoriy had only two personal exhibitions for his lifetime, and after his death almost all his works were taken abroad.
Havrylenko was one of the closest friends of Yura and Asya Yakutovych. His sudden death at 56 from a heart attack undermined Heorhiy’s health: it was this event that caused Yakutovych senior to have his first infarct.
Till Eulenspiegel Is Published
The researches of Serhiy Yakutovych’s life considered Till Eulenspiegel (Charles De Coster’s historical novel about the Reformation period in the Netherlands) to be sort of a dividing line between the first and the second stage of the painter’s creative activity. It was manifested primarily in the artist’s approach to book illustration – at the beginning of the 1990s, Serhiy started putting his own meanings in books more freely, and his next works became more conceptual. Thus, here is how Serhiy described his reflections of that time: “Now it seems to me that I went beyond the limits of my habitat. I stumbled and fell, but I still managed to see its limits. So I started filling them.”As the “perestroika” (restructuring of the Soviet political and economic system) began and later Ukraine became independent, the consciousness of many people changed drastically: from being fascinated with the new opportunities to despair on account of how to find a place for oneself in the new system and sometimes, basically, how to survive during locust years. A lot of painters emigrated to the Western countries in search of a better life during these days. At the same time, a creative movement started to actively form in Ukraine.
Anton Yakutovych Studies at National Academy of Visual Arts and Architecture
The Kyiv Art Institute was renamed twice during the 1990s: the first time the name was changed to the Ukrainian Academy of Arts in 1992, the second renaming to the National Academy of Visual Arts and Architecture took place in 1998. The latter has remained till present.
During these years, the youngest Yakutovych – Anton – was studying at the National Academy of Visual Arts and Architecture. This period may be regarded as the time of searching and realizing the system that was formed in the art life of Ukraine in the 1990s. At that time, young painters felt unneeded and unable to fulfil themselves within the country.
While studying, Anton found his technique: he preferred painting over graphic art because he saw a challenge (graphic art was easier for him) and freedom (technically painting is more “alive”).
Olha Yakutovych Starts Working with Japanese Publishers
During the 1990s, foreign publishers, Japanese in particular, got interested in Slavic folklore. They invited graphic artists from the post-Soviet area to create book illustrations. Olha Yakutovych’s lucid and racy style was appealing and fitted the purpose of designing children’s books, so she was offered to work with the Tokyo publishing house. Since the books with her illustrations were good sellers, the publisher had cooperated with Olha for more than a decade. She designed a lot of fairy tales during this time, Lame Duck, I am a cat and others.
Serhiy Yakutovych Lives and Works in Spain
In the second half of the 1990s, Serhiy and several other Ukrainian painters were invited to Spain to work in the local patron’s private residence. Yakutovych created about 150 big paintings within these years – it was likely to be the artist’s most productive painting period. However, the wide public would never see those works: the patron died in 1999 and all paintings were confiscated to pay his debts. It was one of rather traumatic moments for Serhiy Yakutovych on his creative path.
Heorhiy Yakutovych’s First Personal Exhibition
Although Heorhiy Yakutovych was a very honoured painter of the ХХ century, he had not had a personal exhibition until the last year of his life. It was opened February 15 in the Kyiv Art Institute (now it is the National Academy of Visual Arts and Architecture) a day after Heorhiy’s seventieth birthday.
After Yakutovych’s death, many exhibitions were organized by his son Serhiy. One of the largest by scale was the exposition in the National Art Museum of Ukraine in 2005.
Heorhiy Yakutovych Dies
Heorhiy died September 5. Here is how Serhiy Yakutovych recollected the day his father died:
«I was working on Prayer for Hetman Mazepa when my father died. I called [director] Illienko and told him I couldn’t be at the set because my father died. Illienko hung up without saying a word. Later he told me that at the moment I called him Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors was on the TV. The episode with the sound of trembitas at the background.».The Ukrainian search continues: viable myths, attractive heroes, new language in all types of art. Painters are trying to find their audience, while a viewer often does not have the necessary vocabulary to understand the new art. This period that has lasted until now is about finding the point of contact and, at the same time, preserving a special place of art in the culture.
Premiere of Prayer for Hetman Mazepa
Sometimes Yuriy Illienko’s film is said to be “painted” – there were more than fifteen hundred square meters of decorations and it was Serhiy Yakutovych who created them. A big part of them was burned during the shooting. The motion picture itself was received as Illienko’s most controversial work, it was not recommended for viewing in several countries and was not aired by the Ukrainian television.
Prayer for Hetman Mazepa began a large-scale graphic series for Serhiy Yakutovych he had worked on until the late 2000s – Mazepiana. The painter perceived the main hero, Ivan Mazepa, as a powerful myth, embodiment of tragic heroism, which he conveyed in numerous images of the hetman.
Anton Yakutovych Moves to Paris
In the late 1990s, Anton got acquainted with his future wife, composer and performer Berangere Maximin. In a couple of years, they moved to Paris where they got married. It was an important step for Anton who began a close cooperation with the European galleries. At the same time, Yakutovych junior did not take his moving as a separation with Ukraine: he admitted in his interview that living in France was the perfect ground for him to become an independent and free artist.
Serhiy Yakutovych Receives Shevchenko National Prize
Just like his father, Serhiy Yakutovych took prizes for granted. He became the youngest honoured painter in the Soviet times, and obtained a lot of decorations later on. He was also awarded the most significant Ukrainian prize for some of the works from the Mazepiana series.
Olha Yakutovych Dies
Serhiy Yakutovych said that the two most important persons in his life were his father and his wife Olha. She died of cancer at the age of 58 in 2008. Her death brought the man down rather hard – Serhiy’s creative activity from then on began to lose momentum.
Cycle of Hohol Is Born Exhibitions
Mykola Hohol was one of the central figures in Serhiy Yakutovych’s art: in addition to dedicating himself to the book and film Taras Bulba, the painter also worked on Viy, Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka, Mirgorod and others. The large-scale exhibition project with Pavlo Gudiom as a curator was held on Hohol’s 200th anniversary in three locations: Kyiv (Ukrainian House), Lviv (Sheptytskyi National Museum) and Paris (UNESCO Headquarters).
Apart from graphic works of art based on Hohol, the exposition contained the space models of Hohol’s characters and sketches to Bortko’s Taras Bulba. The music of Berangere Maximin-Yakutovych, Serhiy’s daughter-in-law, was an important exhibit there as well.
Premiere of Taras Bulba
The shooting of Vladimir Bortko’s film began early in the year 2007, but the opening night was postponed to mark the 200th birth anniversary of Mykola Hohol – the author of Taras Bulba. In Ukraine, the movie stirred heated discussions about the historical discrepancies and strong pro-Russian ideology.
Serhiy Yakutovych, the film’s art director, had rather mixed feelings about the result as well: on the one hand, he was happy with his work as the characters’ images were portrayed skilfully and authentically; on the other hand, as Yakutovych noted, “when shooting is over and the director goes in the operator’s room, no one knows what will come out in the end”.
Bohdan Stupka Dies
The Yakutovych had the privilege to work with the famous Ukrainian actor many times – at first, it was Heorhiy, then his son Serhiy. The latter had a fruitful cooperation with Bohdan Stupka in cinema (Prayer for Hetman Mazepa and Taras Bulba), and later Stupka involved Serhiy Yakutovych in theatre as well – it was the actor’s initiative for Serhiy to become the designer of play Urus Shaitan staged in the Ivan Franko National Academic Drama Theatre at the end of 2010.
After Bohdan’s death in 2012, Serhiy opened the exhibition Stupka. Was, Is and Will Be Alive, where he reproduced the images of the actor’s best roles and collected a lot of artefacts that were supposed “to simulate Bohdan’s presence”.
Priemere of The Guide
One of the last projects Serhiy took part in was Oles Sanin’s film The Guide. The shooting began in 2012 and, as the art director admits, working on this movie allowed him to find out the part of Ukraine he had not seen before: the production team visited seven oblasts in the course of filming.
Since the film’s premiere, Yakutovych virtually ended his art career – Anton’s tragic death destabilized him. Thus, The Guide was Serhiy’s last film project and Lina Kostenko’s Berestechko – the last book published in 2011.
Anton Yakutovych Dies
Anton Yakutovych came to Kyiv on his mother anniversary at the end of 2013. To Serhiy’s question, for how long he was going to stay, he replied: “I’m afraid forever”. Anton died because of illness December 31, which came as a shock to Serhiy. “We planned a couple of projects with him. We didn't separate during the last months of his life. He wished we had recorded our conversations. We didn’t talk about how bad or good of artists we are, we talked about how we feel life and understand art,” the father would later reminisce in the interview.
Serhiy Yakutovych Dies
Serhiy Yakutovych died after his long illness June 27. Just like all his family, he was buried on the Baikove Cemetery in Kyiv.
Since the late 1950s, two-storeyed house No. 47 in Kudriavska Street had been occupied by some of the most creative people of Kyiv of that time. They even created their own republic called Via del Corno – the street name from Vasco Pratolini’s novel A Tale of Poor Lovers. “Via del Corno is a very small street: fifty meters long and five meters wide, with no sidewalk […] Who will go to Via del Corno? Only those who live here or are somehow involved with its inhabitants,” – that is how the painter described this street, and this image was very appealing to the residents of building No. 47 in Kydriavska Street.
The newly-established republic consisted of a very few people. Yura Yakutovych was elected the President, and his wife Asya Pavlovska was the First Lady. Oleksandr Hubarev who lived in the basement was appointed the Minister of Internal Affairs. When sculptors Mykola Rapay and Olha Rapay-Markish with their daughter Kateryna moved in, Mykola became the Minister of Defence (with no army however), and Olha – the Minister of Ethnic Minorities. The office of the Minister of Culture was unquestionably taken by the painter Hryhoriy Havrylenko. Oleksandr Dancheko visited the Republic of Via del Corno pretty often, so he was also given a ministerial position.
Such fancy and playful manner was the way these artists lived. The Yakutovych’s house welcomed everyone who needed it. Their friends were there all the time discussing their latest works, sharing new knowledge and arguing about the topical matters. They kept aloof from mundanity and formalities that could catch up with them anywhere but home thanks to such fantasies like Via del Corno. At the same time, the artists in Kudriavska Street were far from rich, they often had to live on a stringent budget. However, they dwelled in their own “republic” with its principles and traditions.
Kyiv was an important theme for many members of the Yakutovych family: Dmytro had been developing the pictorial images of the city during three decades; Heorhiy portrayed the life of Kyiv on engravings. The family’s history is closely intertwined with the history of the Ukrainian capital. Thus, the Yakutovych’s great grandfathers had a house in the Andriyivskyy Descent (now it is building No. 32) and erected several churches in Podil.
The Kyiv artists always had their special places which were often related to their period of studying. The first creative socialization was the art school (Taras Shevchenko State Art School) where people met their future brothers and sisters in trade. Besides, Oleksandra Pavlovska taught at the Shevchenko State Art School for a long time – many future painters studied under her guidance.
The next step was the Art Institute which was later renamed the National Academy of Visual Arts and Architecture. Its structure was more complicated: the institute often introduced the “punitive measures” against both students and professors. This could lead to expulsions or dismissals, bans to pursue certain themes in art or provide students with information on censored characters. At the same time, the Kyiv Art Institute was the only possibility to obtain a higher art education in Kyiv.
Red tape was another persistent topic in the capital in the Soviet times. Local bureaucrats were a much bigger threat to the intelligentsia than the authorities at the republic or all-Union level. Local officials, either on account of fear or desire to get promoted, refused painters to take trips for creative purposes or participate in the international exhibitions. Artists felt strongly about the fact that if you wanted to go abroad, the chances of getting a permission were higher if you turned to Moscow.
Heorhiy Yakutovych may easily be called the one who opened the Carpathians for a lot of people. First of all, for his family and friends: Yura visited the Hutsul land several times a year always taking his sons, wife and painters from Kyiv and Moscow he was acquainted with. Sometimes Yakutovych’s Carpathian house in Dzembronia village turned into sort of a residence. They also celebrated New Year’s Eve and other holidays there.
Secondly, Heorhiy unveiled the Carpathians to the production team of Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors. Yakutovych was a real guide into the culture, traditions and life of the local population for Parajanov and others.
The Carpathian Mountains were something very different to Yakutovych than what they are to us now since they have become a tourist zone. To the painter, Hutsulshchyna was the heart of another world with its own understanding of environment. He dived in this world, tried to feel and comprehend it, and sometimes to study it. Heorhiy virtually “blended” in the tides of Carpathian life, he became one of them – and this intimacy with his artistic theme may be felt especially in the People of Dzembronia Village engraving series.
The roots were growing gradually: getting acquainted with people, buying a house, and in 1990 Yura was even baptized in Iltsi village with Dmytro Illiuk, a Dzembronia resident, as his godfather. After Heorhiy’s death, his son Serhiy installed a cross on the spot where the house was situated. This cross stood there only for several years, but it was restored in summer 2017.
Summer in Kaniv in the Soviet period was the time of boisterous creative life: there was a recreation camp for painters. Besides, students of the Kyiv Art Institute came to the town for summer practice every year. The Yakutovych were also connected with Kaniv – they often visited it on summer weekends. Here is how Serhiy recalled the moments spent in this place:
“We had a house in Kaniv where all our family stayed for the summer. And sometimes our Moscow and Leningrad relatives arrived to eat and drink. It made my father angry, and once he took me by the arm and led to Korsun town. But when we were almost there, he found out that he didn’t have any money with him.”
The episode with the Russian relatives coming over was very demonstrative. Yura, just like all his family, neither shared nor supported the notions of Ukraine that people abroad had – that it was a beautiful and quiet place without any problems or internal conflicts, sort of a resort area of the USSR. This admiration brought the Ukrainian topics to nought, making them unimportant and not deserving a critical and thoughtful insight. The Yakutovych’s works are the main confirmation of their inner resistance to such positions as their “beauty” does not ever come to the forefront and is not a goal in itself.
Anton Yakutovych moved to Paris in 2002 where he lived with his wife Berangere. The painter found where he could direct his creative energy and was actively engaged in painting. In France, Yakutovych could cooperate with many European galleries: his works were regularly displayed in London and he also contributed to the expositions in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and other countries.
Several landmark exhibitions of Serhiy Yakutovych were also connected with France. Thus, his graphic art was exhibited in Toulouse in 1992, his Mazepiana series was brought to Paris in 2004, and a large-scale project Hohol Is Born was opened in the capital of France in 2009.
Serhiy Yakutovych went to Spain in the second half of the 1990s when artists in Ukraine had almost no possibilities to survive financially. The painter was invited there by one of local patrons – to work and live in his residence together with other painters. Anton Yakutovych visited his father there and one day he met Berangere Maximin, his future wife.
However, this trip turned out to be rather stressful for Serhiy: the patron passed away in 1999 and all the works that the artists created in his residence were confiscated to pay debts. Hence, Yakutovych lost all his artwork (and this is more than 150 large canvases).
ГHeorhiy Yakutovych could not get a permit to go to other countries for a long time: the “curtain” fell only at the end of the 1980s when Heorhiy was allowed to visit Italy. He went there with his son Serhiy who accompanied his father as a nurse boy.
This trip impressed Yakutovych senior very deeply. As his son recalled, the painter “fell in love with everything around him”. At the same time, here is how Heorhiy commented on his trip abroad from the philosophical and artistic point of view: “I haven’t found there anything that I couldn’t have seen here.”
As Serhiy Yakutovych recollected, the Russian capital was seen as the “country of Moscow” in the Soviet times. The art life was developing much quicker there than in other cities. There were exhibitions of foreign artists, you could buy books there that you would not find in Kyiv as well as expand your audience. The spectrum of themes was wider, and most viewers were more liberal. All this attracted painters and made them want to move to Moscow.
For instance, the book Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors designed by Heorhiy was highly evaluated in Moscow, while the Kyiv art community barely noted it. In general, Yakutovych senior visited the capital of Russia mostly to demonstrate his new works. Moreover, there he found close friends who were artists as well: May Miturich (the nephew of the Futurist poet Velimir Khlebnikov), Vladimir Pertsov and Ilarion Golitsyn.
Moscow was also the place where Serhiy Yakutovych had studied for three years – and his further returning to Kyiv was not that painful. On the whole, in his notes, Serhiy made a very good point when describing the reason why Kyiv artists were so much drawn to Moscow during the Soviet times:
«КKyiv is a village. It had always been. And this is what was magical about it. Right now Kyiv is a capital… And young blood in art always comes from a village. Their restless energy is always cramped in their native town – they want to go to the capital, to the other “bigger” world.».
And although since the 1990s, the attitude towards Moscow has been getting increasingly worse, the importance of its cultural associations to artists of that time can hardly be overestimated.
There are several stages of lithography. At first, a painter draws a picture on a stone plate with a special lithographic pencil or ink. Then the stone is treated with acid and painted. The paint sticks only to the places where a lithographic pencil was used. Afterwards, the stone may be impressed onto paper – this method is cheaper and technically easier than etching. Lithography was discovered by the German inventor Alois Senefelder in 1796.
The Yakutovych often used the technique of autolithography, which means “author’s lithography” when a painter not only draws on a stone but also treats it himself without turning to the printer’s services.
Linocut is one of the youngest printmaking techniques invented at the beginning of the ХХ century. It uses linoleum which is a cheap and simple material to work with – that is why it is so popular.
A painter uses instruments to carve a design into the linoleum surface and then paints it with a roller. Thus, the design remains white (colourless), while the background is covered with paint – that is how it differs from etching and is somewhat similar to xylography (woodcut).
Linocut does not allow operating with such halftones like etching does – the print is distinct and contrasting. Heorhiy turned to this technique more often than other Yakutovych family members.
Etching is done on specially treated metal plates which are scratched with a needle and then dipped in acid. After that, the plate is covered with the paint which, after cleaning, remains only in the scratched areas. So when the plate with the paper on it is run through the press, the paint is transferred only from the etched lines.
Etching may vary by the method of plate etching or treatment, and in general this technique allows working with subtle transitions of light and shadow and the tonality of an image.
Serhiy Yakutovych used etching more than anyone in his family, especially during his first creative periods.
Xylography is also known as woodcut, which makes it more clear what material is used. Woodcut is pretty much like linocut by its technique: an artist cuts an image into the wood surface, paints the block of wood with a paint-covered roller and makes impressions on paper.
Xylography is the oldest type of graphic art: it was already known in the Orient in the V–VI centuries, and became common in Europe at the end of the XIV century. At the same time, xylography was not practised on a very large scale due to the complexity of working with the material, so most European painters “rediscovered” it for the public. Which Heorhiy Yakutovych did in the 1960s – his prints on wood were unusual for that time.
Probably, all painters one way or another turn to drawing – a type of graphic art where an image is created with pencils, ink or paint and mostly on paper. Drawing is often seen as something “elementary” (drawing fundamentals are considered to be the basis for studying at an art school or institute) or “sketchy” – as a preliminary stage for something more serious.
However, Serhiy Yakutovych’s drawings are very technically skilful: his pencil- or ink-made works often resemble etching or other engraving techniques. As Serhiy worked in magnifying glasses, he could draw in the smallest details in each image.
This painting technique allowed painters to make half-transparent and very colourful images with special paints. Water-colour is usually applied on paper which makes it closer to the graphic types of art.
Owing to the “lightness” of water-colour images, this technique is often used to design books for children as bright pictures fit the idea of a proper children’s book. Thus, children’s book illustrators Oleksandra Pavlovska and Olha Yakutovych were the ones in the Yakutovych family who turned to this method most often. It is interesting to note that when working on “adult” books painters would often prefer different kinds of graphic art over water-colour.
Art is most often associated with painting: the technique when an artist applies paint (oil, acrylic or tempera) on a canvas. Right now painting is the most popular form of art.
Everyone from the Yakutovych family turned to painting from time to time. While some of them just tried to “refresh their style”, Dmytro and Anton Yakutovych chose painting as their main technique for creating art. Thus, Dmytro was attracted to the diversity of working with colour as well as great expressiveness of the style. Anton preferred painting because of the “feeling of freedom” that it brought into the works.
The art director’s contribution to the making of a film may sometimes be equal to that of an operator or actors. The artistic design was especially important in the so-called “poetic cinema” where such films as Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, Zakhar Berkut, Prayer for Hetman Mazepa are said to belong.
It was Heorhiy and Serhiy Yakutovych who developed all decorations and entourage for these motion pictures, they looked for the picturesque places to become the shooting locations, elaborated the characters’ images and thoroughly studied the special features of the epoch and culture the films’ events took place in. Most of the time, it was the painters who created the storyboard; they also offered their own ideas of how a scene should be filmed.
A print is a work of graphic art made as an impression on paper or other material. That is all impressions of painters’ engraving plates are individual works of art – and they called prints. A print may be signed by an author and issued in limited editions during the artist’s lifetime or may be issued by heirs or the state after the painter’s death. Even when a painter mainly illustrates books, he often issues his works as prints.
As a rule, prints fitted the format of exhibits better and were the focus of art critics’ attention. Thus, Heorhiy Yakutovych’s “Arkan” or “I Have an Axe, Axe…” were the landmark works of graphic art of the 1960s.
The book graphic art may be called the type of art that was tightly connected with the social and political system. It is especially exemplified by the ХХ century. If during the first decades graphic artists actively introduced the phenomenon of a physical book as art and in the 1920s a book became a vanguard work of art, it began to perform a more utilitarian function as soon as the social realism had been prevailing. Publishers refused from the comprehensive book design and a painter was supposed to provide only separate illustrations. Hence, such a book dropped in both quality and price.
The situation began to change in the 1960s when the Yakutovych family actively promoted their new approach to book design.
The sphere of art often seems pretty much closed to an outside perspective. This is the case partly because there is no one courageous enough to ask certain art-related questions. This section includes several questions which are more complicated than they may sound at first and can become an impulse for further contemplations on the essence of art.
Why do books need illustrations?
This question actually worried the painters who designed books. Additional pictures do not always help understand a text, sometimes they even contradict it and distract a reader from the original information. That is why graphic artists often tried to define their task very clearly: do not overload the book and combine harmoniously a visual series with a text one. A painter’s point of view could not be louder than author’s words, that is why the “decorative effect” of elements and overcomplicated visual images were seen as bad taste in book graphic art.
Therefore, book illustration must help a reader perceive a text better, fee the book’s atmosphere, notice the small details that may be missed at first. Another important aspect is to make a book more interesting for the audience so that it seems more appealing and topical to it.
Why not all Sixtiers were dissidents?
An artist from the 1960s tends to be associated with dissidence and opposition. Although many representatives of intelligentsia really did not support the government’s actions or the system in general, but not everyone engaged in a direct confrontation with it. Sometimes the fear was in the way, but often it was the desire to improve the situation which would be hard to do in jail.
Many artists of the 1960s chose a “silent” opposition which was manifested in alternative approaches to philosophy and art aesthetics rather than active political gestures.
What does an art director do in the making of a film?
The art director’s role in the film production is often depreciated. It is actually a person that helps translate the script from text into visual language. He or she develops the decorations (from sketches to their physical representation and working with the materials), they look for the best shooting locations, make a storyboard with comments for an operator. An art director is also responsible for conducting a visual research of different periods and cultures so that a film is void of historical errors.
How was the lifestyle of intelligentsia different from that of other people?
In fact, if we take the creative circle of the Yakutovych, there wasn’t any special “bohemian” lifestyle. The mode of life varied depending on a particular person, but there was a certain feature in the attitude to the art that united them all. They treated their work as their job – everyday labour that they needed to improve in, learn something new and be responsible about the results. This approach was indeed far from hedonism.
ЧWhy most Ukrainian artists are not popular?
A lot of factors prevented Ukrainian artists from getting into the media scene: these were the publicity issues, working “only for oneself”, censorship restrictions and the inferiority complex as compared with the “foreign art”. One of the strongest factors was the inability of cultural figures to work with artists: as soon as a painter had disappeared from the public space, no one was supporting or interested in their works – this primarily concerns the professionals of the field.
What is special about the Yakutovych’s art?
The artwork of the Yakutovych family covered very different epochs of the development of the Ukrainian society: from the middle of the ХХ century up until our days. Their art did not end in aesthetics, instead it brought up persistent topics of each period as well as paved the way for contemplations on future problems. Thus, the Yakutovych’s works go beyond the limits of what is called art and address a range of important issues concerning society, politics and culture.
Why do we need to know artists and study their work?
Why do we need to know artists and study their work?
- Why do books need illustrations?