A historical look at Ukrainian art reveals that despite the influences, forced or otherwise, there exists distinct Ukrainian elements that characterize and separate Ukrainian art from other foreign arts and culture…
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Ukrainian art was said to have its beginning in the pre-Christian era but any progress and development that it had gained was squashed by centuries of turmoil during the Tatar barbarism. In the 17th century, however, a Cossack Ukraine took interest in the country’s culture and arts as a way of gaining the trust of the local Orthodox Church and population to create a strong power base. As a result, there was significant movement and progress in Ukraine’s arts and culture, but it was in the 18th century when the Khmel’nyts’kyi Revolution, the Period of Ruin and the last days of the Mazepa era, was brought to a close that they began to flourish. Whatever gains, however, that Ukrainian arts and culture had during that era soon became ineffective when Stalinization and “russification” was imposed on non-Russian cultures. This implied a suppression of non-Russian culture and the imposition of Russian culture as a guideline for all artistic and cultural activities. With the death of Stalin in 1953 and the subsequent de-Stalinization of Russian policies during the reign of Nikita Khrushchev in the late 1950s, Ukrainian art became free once again.
Ukrainian architecture began to take a distinctive shape in the pre-Christian era. Early Ukrainian structures were made of wood. In the 9th to 10th centuries churches, fortifications and even palaces were made of wood (see Fig. 1). Pieces of timber were horizontally placed on top of another to form structures and this tradition of construction was continued even up to the 20th century (My Ukraine).
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For most of the modern era and until 1991, Ukraine was under Moscow’s control. With the break-up of the Soviet Union near the end of 1991 and Ukraine’s emergence as an independent state, the Ukrainian-Russian relationship has been tense and even hostile for much of the 1990s.
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