Ukraine War Day #379: The Western War Against Russian Art [continued]

Dear Readers:

Continuing my review of this piece, by reporter Andrei Rezchikov. The topic is the crazy virtue-signalling of Western museums. Who seek to punch Russia in the nose, culturally speaking, while attributing some great works of Russian art to Ukrainians.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is one of the worst offenders in this rewriting of history. Apparently the curators there are under political pressure to de-Russify their exhibits to the extent possible. Russian artists Ivan Aivazovsky (1817-1900) and Ilya Repin (1844-1930) have had their annotations changed several times. Aivazovsky was initially converted into a Ukrainian, and then into an Armenian. The curators finally settled on a wording whereby “he was born in the Russian Empire in an Armenian family, in the Crimean port city of Theodosia.”

Portrait of Ivan Aivazovsky, painted by Konstantin Makovsky

As for Repin, the museum changed the annotations on several of his paintings, noting that he was born in “the rural Ukrainian town of Chuguev.”

Other Western museums have followed suit and attempted to “Ukrainize” Russian artists. According to the London National Gallery, “Repin was a major artist of the Realist movement at the end of the 19th century. He was born in the Ukraine and began his career painting ikons.”

It was this same gallery that renamed a painting by French Impressionist Edgar Degas from “Russian Dancers” to “Ukrainian Dancers”, at the request of the Ukrainian diaspora living in Great Britain. This was done for purely political reasons, as a response to Russia’s Special Military Operation.

In 1899 Degas created a series of 18 works dedicated to Russian folk dancers. One of the works, located in the Metropolitan Museum, was renamed to “Dancer in Ukrainian Costume”. These changes went farther than just fiddling with the scholarly annotations placed underneath a painting: These museums actually had the gall to change the title given to his work by the artist himself! As if chiding Degas: “Non non, Monsieur, you are mistaken, these girls are Ukrainians!” If they felt that Degas had made a mistake, they could have just said that in the annotation, but they should have left his title alone.

Moving on to Amsterdam: the Stedelijk Museum decided that the Russian artist Kazimir Malevich was a Ukrainian. Malevich (1879-1935) was a leading figure in the Supremacist Movement. Malevich in fact was born in Kiev. Which, in 1879, was a city in the Russian Empire.

“This is nonsense.”

Alexander Sholokhov heads the Duma Committee for Culture. He happens to be the grandson of the famous Soviet writer Mikhail Sholokhov (author of The Quiet Don). Sholokhov thinks what the Western museums are doing, is ridiculous: “This is absolute nonsense. Kuindzhi was a Russian-speaking Greek. He was born in the Mariupol Uyezd of the Russian Empire. Changing the nationality of Russian classics suits the needs of certain political forces. It’s a kind of psychosis. The museums are victims of media technologies. In the current mindset it is possible to convince a person of practically anything.”

Alexander Mikhailovich Sholokhov

Sholokhov goes on to say that the Russian professional/official art world has already spoken out against this insanity and pointed to the illogicality of what is going on. “Technically speaking, we could even bring a lawsuit, but there is little point in that. It would only pour water onto the mill of those who engage in this sort of thing. A scandal would only arouse even more interest in the discussion, and then the sheer volume of the information being pumped out would make an objective opinion simply impossible.

“I call upon Western and Ukrainian activists to be consistent. Why is Sergei Prokofiev still a Russian composer? He was born in Donbass himself (in Sontsovka, Yekaterinoslavskaya Gubernia of the Russian Empire), not far from where Kuindzhi himself was born. So why is Kuindzhi suddenly a Ukrainian, even though he himself never even suspected that, his whole life? We could go even further. Currenly in the cinemas they are showing a film called Golda, about Golda Meir. They call her an Israeli politician. But they need to be consistent: She was born in Kiev, therefore they need to call her a Ukrainian politician.

“Earlier the Ukrainians started saying that [writer] Anton Chekhov is also a Ukrainian. And yet they renamed Chekhov Street in Kiev [as part of their de-Russification program]. On the one hand they start turning everybody into Ukrainians, but then, as part of de-Russification, they start persecuting those writers, poets, artists, etc., not to mention politicians and military heroes.”

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22 Responses to Ukraine War Day #379: The Western War Against Russian Art [continued]

  1. John Kane says:

    Everyone is Ukrainian — they just don’t know it. I was reading an article, which of course I cannot find now , and there was a throw-away comment about Sveriges Riksbank Prize (i.e. The Economics Nobel) winner Simon Smith Kuznets where the author casually mentioned he was Ukrainian. I had never heard of him and looked up his Wiki.

    Simon Kuznets was born in Pinsk in 1901, in the Russian Empire, or what is today Belarus, to Lithuanian-Jewish parents. He completed his schooling, first at the Rivne, then, Kharkiv Realschule of present-day Ukraine. In 1918, Kuznets entered the Kharkiv Institute of Commerce where he studied economic sciences

    In 1922 he emigrated to the USA. I wonder if he knew he was Ukrainian?


    • yalensis says:

      Kuznets neither knew he was Ukrainian nor had the bad luck to run into Ukrainians. That’s why he survived!
      Exhibit A: Ostap Bender’s story of the “Eternal Jew” in Chapter 27 of “The Little Golden Calf”:

      Рассказ Остапа Бендера о Вечном жиде
      — Не буду напоминать вам длинной и скучной истории Вечного еврея. Скажу только, что около двух тысяч лет этот пошлый старик шатался по всему миру, не прописываясь в гостиницах и надоедая гражданам своими жалобами на высокие железнодорожные тарифы, из-за которых ему приходилось ходить пешком. Его видели множество раз. Он присутствовал на историческом заседании, где Колумбу так и не удалось отчитаться в авансовых суммах, взятых на открытие Америки. Еще совсем молодым человеком он видел пожар Рима. Лет полтораста прожил в Индии, необыкновенно поражая йогов своей живучестью и сварливым характером. Одним словом, старик мог бы порассказать много интересного, если бы к концу каждого столетия писал мемуары. Но Вечный жид был неграмотен и к тому же имел дырявую память.

      Не так давно старик проживал в прекрасном городе Рио-де-Жанейро, пил прохладительные напитки, глядел на океанские пароходы и разгуливал под пальмами в белых штанах — штаны эти он купил по случаю восемьсот лет назад,в Палестине, у какого-то рыцаря, отвоевывающего гроб господень, и они были еще совсем как новые. И вдруг старик забеспокоился. Захотелось ему в Россию, на Днепр. Он бывал везде: и на Рейне, и на Ганге, и на Миссисипи, и на Ян-Цзы, и на Нигере, и на Волге. И не был он только на Днепре. Захотелось ему, видите ли, бросить взгляд и на эту широкую реку.

      Аккурат в 1919 году Вечный жид в своих рыцарских брюках нелегально перешел румынскую границу. Стоит ли говорить о том, что на животе у него хранились восемь пар шелковых чулок и флакон парижских духов, которые одна кишиневская дама просила передать киевским родственникам.В то бурное время ношение контрабанды на животе называлось: «носить в припарку». Этому делу старика живо обучили в Кишиневе. Когда Вечный жид, выполнив поручение, стоял на берегу Днепра, свесив неопрятную зеленую бороду, к нему подошел человек с желто-голубыми лампасами и петлюровскими погонами и строго спросил:

      — Жид?

      — Жид, — ответил старик.

      — Ну, пойдем, — пригласил человек с лампасами. И повел его к куренному атаману.

      — Жида поймали, — доложил он, подталкивая старика коленом.

      — Жид? — спросил атаман с веселым удивлением.

      — Жид, — ответил скиталец.

      — А вот поставьте его к стенке, — ласково сказал куренной.

      — Но ведь я же Вечный! — закричал старик. Две тысячи лет он нетерпеливо ждал смерти, а сейчас вдруг ему очень

      захотелось жить.

      — Молчи, жидовская морда! — радостно закричал чубатый атаман. — Рубай его, хлопцы-молодцы!

      И вечного странника не стало.

      — Вот и все, — заключил Остап.

      TRANSLATION (shorter version):
      For around 2,000 years this trite old man wandered the earth, never checking into hotels and constantly irritating the citizens with his complaints about the expensive railroad tariffs, due to which he was forced to travel on foot. He was spotted many times. […] When he was still a young man he witnessed the famous fire that burned down Rome. He dwelled for a century and a half in India. This old man could have had many interesting stories to tell, if he had ever written his memoirs. Unfortunately, he was illiterate. […]
      And one day the old man suddenly decided that he wanted to visit Russia, see the Dnieper River. That was the only place on the planet he had never been. He wanted to cast his eye on this broad and beautiful river.
      And so in 1919 the Eternal Jew, wearing his knightly trousers, illegally crossed the border from Romania. […] And as he stood on the bank of the Dnieper, suddenly a man walked up to him, who was wearing a uniform with yellow-blue stripes and the insignia of the Petliura army. The man questioned him sternly:

      “I am a Jew,” the old man answered affirmatively.
      “Let’s go.” And the soldier led him to their ataman.
      “I caught a Jew,” he reported, pushing the old man down onto his knees.
      “A Jew?” the ataman repeated, pleasantly surprised.
      “I am a Jew,” the old man confirmed.
      “Put him up against the wall,” the ataman ordered.
      “But wait! I am the Eternal Jew!” the old man protested. For 2,000 years he had been impatiently waiting for his own death, but now he suddenly didn’t want it.
      He wanted to live.
      “Shut your trap, Kike face!” the ataman shouted joyously. “Cut him up, lads!”
      And then the Eternal Jew was no more.

      “And that’s the end of the story,” Ostap concluded.


      • JMF says:

        Yalensis: Many thanks for the Russian original and translation. I’m due to be receiving my Russian-English dictionary today, and it wil be great to use that for practice. (I can already read Cyrillic, and now I’ll finally have access to the words!)


  2. JMF says:

    All of this pandering to mock “political correctness” of the most transient sort is patently absurd. The Degas example, while the most blatantly extreme, is, as you say, just one of many insanely ridiculous and petty gestures.

    Meanwhile, back at the [White House] ranch, the US State Department has awarded the “International Women of Courage” award to an acknowledged Azov Nazi!:

    Moscow condemns ‘Nazi celebration’ at White House

    The decision by the White House to bestow an International Women of Courage Award on a member of an infamous far-right Ukrainian nationalist battalion is “disgraceful,” Moscow’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, said on Thursday. He claimed that the move was further evidence that Washington is ready to support Nazis in the fight against Russia.

    Speaking to reporters, Antonov was asked to comment on the award received at the White House by Yulia Paevskaya, who goes by the nickname ‘Taira’. The ambassador said Moscow had noted the honoring of a member of the Azov battalion, a Ukrainian unit closely associated with neo-Nazi ideology, on International Women’s Day.

    This is a disgrace. It is incomprehensible that Nazis can be celebrated within the walls of the White House.

    Antonov described Paevskaya as a “terrorist cutthroat whose hands are covered in the blood of the elderly, women, and children.” He alleged that in March 2022, as the fighting raged in the besieged city of Mariupol, which is now part of Russia, Paevskaya “pretended to be a mother of two children whose parents she had killed herself,” and then tried to escape disguised in civilian clothing.

    “The abducted minors later confessed that Paevskaya had threatened them with violence,” the diplomat added. …


    • yalensis says:

      I remember the Taira story. The pro-Russians actually captured her outside of Mariupol and rescued the children whom she had kidnapped.

      They then, inexplicably, let her go. Somebody has some ‘splainin’ to do….

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ortensio says:

    La conducta de Rusia no puedo describirlo sino con dos conceptos :

    – Idiotez ( Idiotez de toda la Sociedad Rusa , mas aun en sus Organos Administrativos ) .
    – Traición ( Por estos Organos Administrativos : Poder Ejecutivo, Poder Legislativo y Poder Judicial ) .

    Deslindar entre Idiotez y Traición sería asunto de un estudioso ensayo .

    Lo que si es manifiesto es : Sucederán grandes problemas internos en Rusia y solo mentes privilegiadas por su fuerza ( de voluntad e intelectual ), pueden evitar el desmembramiento de la Federación Rusa .
    Proximo Maidan : Georgia .

    Sin embargo : Ni el Ejecutivo, ni el Legislativo, ni el Poder Judicial están obrando anticipadamente . Excepto no mas de 5000-10000 elementos patrioticos .

    ¡ Que triste parece ser siempre el destino de Rusia !


  4. JMF says:

    yalensis: Just found this on World Socialist Web Site and — though it’s not exactly “on topic” — I thought I’d send it your way since the Ukrainian author addresses themes you’ve covered previously, particularly that fanatical monument destruction:

    Ukrainian government spends millions on monuments and streets to honor Nazi collaborators and neofascists

    This essay was submitted to the WSWS by Maxim Goldarb, the head of the “Union of Left Forces of Ukraine – For New Socialism” party in Ukraine which opposes the NATO war against Russia and has been banned and persecuted by the Zelensky government. …


  5. Daniel Rich says:

    I’ve solved this ‘Russian Problem’ once and for all!


  6. countrumford says:

    I am enjoying the “Fainting Piglets” animations and I assume they are examples of the horror of Russian art. I don’t think any rebranding would be possible. I watched that Russian film about the icon painter. Black and white long and interesting but I can’t recall the name.


  7. Literally everyone on the planet is Ukrainian, except modern Russians. Because the human species evolved in Ukraine and split from (evil, unevolved) Russians looooooong ago. (From The Origin Of SSpecies, by Kyrylo Darwinko.)


    • yalensis says:

      Or maybe the Russian Orcs are themselves a side-splitting away from the pure Ukrainian genome. Like a gene mutation gone horribly wrong.


    • Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha! “Kyrylo Darwinko” — that’s a good one. You know how there’s a trope of “what is your porn name?” as in “What would you call yourself if you were one of the grunters in dirty movies?” Now we should ask ourselves: “How can we convert our real names into Ukrainian versions like that Darwinko fellow?”


      Byrko Bumrangchovskyy


  8. S Brennan says:

    Petty. Def 2] Narrow-minded or ungenerous, especially in trifling matters

    Not so long from now, many of our elite’s courtiers, those that cohabit the elite’s silk cocoons, will go from being pretty petty pets, to irrelevant, to expendable, their soul-less bodies will then be expelled from their gilded cloister in the same manner as yesterday’s ingested meal leaves the domicile.

    Pity them not.


  9. Aule Valar says:

    From a certain point of view it can be said that those museums actually *deny* that Ukrainians exist. If a person who has considered themself Russian for their entire life can be declared Ukrainian solely on the ground of their birth city currently being in Ukraine, it’s the same as declaring that Ukrainian *ethnicity* doesn’t exist!


    • yalensis says:

      Cleverly put. Which is what some Great Russian chauvinists actually claim, namely that there is no such thing as a Ukrainian *ethnos* per se.

      Personally, I believe that there is such a thing as a Ukrainian ethnos. It was small, but did exist; was forged in the Ruthenian-speaking regions. They spoke a Slavic dialect called Surzhyk, and were initially friendly to Tsarist Russia. Many of the Ruthenian communities were subsequently Polonized, but other groups, living mainly in the Western regions that used to be under Austria-Hungary or Poland, speaking related dialects, came to fill up the slack of “Ukrainian” identity. Also add in a soupcon of Cossack.

      The basic identity consists of a language, which was crafted together as a literary language by a small group of writers and intellectuals. Plus certain folklore, the national costumes, Cossacks, a small body of literature, art, and music.
      During and after WWII this “identity” became completely corrupted by Nazism and racism, and remains so to this day. I would say that today, if one had to summarize all of current “Ukrainian” identity in a single word, that word would be Bandera. Having adopted Bandera as their official identity, the Ukrainians have given up their right to exist as an ethnos, because they are just too damned dangerous.


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