Ukrainian Institute of America

The Ukrainian Institute occupies one of the grandest turn-of-the-century structures that remain in New York City: the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion.  Not many people know that the grand French Renaissance-style chateau on the southeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 79th Street is actually open to the public. 

 The house sits across  the Metropolitan Museum of art in the midst of "Museum Mile", which includes the Guggenheim Museum and the Frick Collection. It   was designed by Charles Pierrepont Henry Gilbert for the New York banker and stockbroker Isaac D. Fletcher in 1897 and completed in 1898.

When Fletcher died in 1917, he left the house and his art collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.. In  1918 the house was bought by made oil millionaire Harry F. Sinclair who lived in the house until 1930. After 1930 the  descendents of Peter Stuyvesant had been living there. In 1955 house was purchased by the Ukrainian Institute of America.

Ukrainian Institute of America  was founded in 1948 by William Dzus (Volodymyr Dzus or Dzhus )  American engineer of Ukrainian descent. 
Since that time the institute has offered concerts, lectures, conferences and exhibits. 
I visited Ukrainian Institute on a warm  night in June. It was a Museum Day in New York  and 5th Ave was close to traffic and overcrowded.   There was a long line to  the    Neue Galerie  - "Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937," was on show. I opened  the door of the beautiful mansion  and was surprised how quite it was inside.  I was the only one visitor at that time...

The first floor was occupied by a photo exhibit from Euromaidan  " For Democracy and Dignity".
 There were a bunch of the pictures done in Socialist realism style, the official style of Soviet art from the mid-1930s until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. One of the most impressive was  monumental 1961 work "Motherland Greets A Hero" (15 feet x 7 feet),  by Mykhailo Khmelko  which depicts Nikita Khrushchev and a crowd of well-wishers greeting cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin after his first flight into space.

The last floor of the house is occupied now by the works of Alexander Archipenko. 

 Archipenko was born in Kyiv, Ukraine in 1887. He  moved to Paris in 1908 and was a resident in the artist’s colony La Ruche, among émigré Russian artists.   Four of Archipenko’s Cubist sculptures, including Family Life and five of his drawings, appeared in the controversial Armory Show in 1913 in New York City.  I wrote about this show in one of my posts. Alexander Archipenko died on February 25, 1964, in New York City. His works are on view till December 2014 and I highly recommend to visit Ukrainian Institute- you will be really pleasantly surprised. 

1 comment:

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