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The Ateneum, a Finnish museum, has acknowledged Ilya Repin as a Ukrainian artist

01 Feb, 2024
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The Ateneum, a Finnish museum, has acknowledged Ilya Repin as a Ukrainian artist

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Ateneum Museum in Helsinki has reclassified the artist Ilya Repin, whose work is part of the museum's permanent collection, as Ukrainian.

This decision was made based on new information received by the museum.

In early 2023, Ukrainian journalist Hanna Lodigina contacted the museum seeking information about Repin's life in Finland. Ateneum curator Timo Huusko sent her an article about the artist, indicating that his parents were born in the Moscow region. In response, Lodigina sent the museum a church document showing that Repin's father and grandfather were born in the territory of modern Ukraine.

It is noted that in 2021, Ateneum Museum, in collaboration with the Tretyakov Gallery and the Russian Museum of Art, organized a major exhibition of Repin's works. At that time, the artist was identified as Russian, despite being born in the territory of modern Ukraine.

Repin is just one of many Ukrainian artists whom Russia considers its own. Ukrainian researcher Oksana Semenik noticed during her internship at the Zimmerli Art Museum in the United States that a significant part of the museum's Russian collection was from Ukraine or other former Soviet republics. Similar situations were evident in the online collections of many other museums.

Semenik wrote to cultural institutions, explaining why information about artists needed correction. Semenik's and other Ukrainian activists' efforts led to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York changing the nationality of artists such as Ilya Repin, Arkhip Kuindzhi, and Ivan Aivazovsky.

 

 

The artist passed away in 1930 at his estate, Penaty, in the city of Kuokkala. After the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917, it became part of Finland. Later, it again became Russian territory.

Many researchers of Repin's life write that the artist wanted to return to Ukraine, but the path there was closed by the Bolsheviks, and he did not want to return to Russia on principle, even though the Soviet authorities strongly desired it.

"While the Bolsheviks are in power, I don't want to have anything in common with Russia," he wrote in private letters to friends.

The Odessa Journal

The Odessa Journal

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