The Centre for Studies of the Culture and History of East European Jews in Kiev has organized an art exhibition of the work of Ukrainian-Jewish avant-garde artist Mark Epstein (1899-1949). The exhibition, Mark Epstein: Return of Master opened at the National Arts Museum in Kiev in mid-December and includes about 100 works and is on view until the end of this month. The exhibition is the first of Epstein's work, which was not exhibited during his lifeitme during the Societ period. In conjunction with the exhibition the Centre has published an album of about 60 Epstein works including graphics, paintings, scenographic works an sculpture.
National Art Museum of Ukraine, 6 Grushevskogo St., 278-13-57, 278-74-54, www.namu.kiev.ua, until Jan. 30
Mark Epstein was a notable figure in the artistic life of Kyiv during the 1920’s. In 1928, having just finished the Kyiv Arts College, he immersed himself into the progressive arts movement of that time. He attended O. Exter’s art studio where his newest creative ideas were polished. Mark Epstein’s cubic-futurist works of the beginning of the 1920’s – Violoncellist, Family, Tailor, The Two, A Woman with a Yoke – have become part of the history of modern Ukrainian art.
Epstein was one of the founders of the artistic section of the Culture League – an association whose aim was the development of Jewish culture. Members of the section also included O.Tishler, El Lysytsky, J. Chaikov, S. Nikritin, and others. Marc Chagall, N. Altman, R. Falk, and D. Sterenberg also cooperated with the Culture League. In their effort to create new Jewish art, members of the Culture League synthesized images of traditional art with Ukrainian avant-garde ideas.
Epstein took an active part in this work. Unfortunately, only the graphic works of Epstein have been preserved from the 1920’s; representations of his sculptures have survived only as photos, while his paintings have been totally lost.
The work of the Culture League was terminated in the middle of the 1920’s. In 1932, Epstein had to move to Moscow. He took practically no part in exhibitions there, but worked a great deal. However his attempts to adjust his talent to the requirements of the times bore no evident fruit.
Here is a small selection (compliments of Flickr) of Epstein's innovative graphic designs using new forms of Hebrew lettering and composition.
Cover of the magazine "Freyd" (Joy). Kiev, Kultur-Lige, 1923, No 8, Yiddish. 27,1 x 21,5. Design: Mark Epstein Location: Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaisme, ParisSource: Hillel (Gregory) Kazovsky, The Artists of the Kultur-Lige, Jerusalem; Moskau 2003.
Location: Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaisme, ParisSource: Hillel (Gregory) Kazovsky, The Artists of the Kultur-Lige, Jerusalem; Moskau 2003.
Cover of a "Theather-bukh" (Book on the Theater). Kiev, Kultur-Lige, 1927, Yiddish. 23.5 x 16,5. Design: Mark Epstein Location: Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaisme, ParisSource: Hillel (Gregory) Kazovsky, The Artists of the Kultur-Lige, Jerusalem; Moskau 2003.