The role of Ukrainian folk ornament in the Art Nouveau graphic: theoretical and applied aspects


Background. The article deals with the basic conceptual foundations of the "Ukrainian style" in the art of the late 19th – early 20th centuries, primarily in the field of searching for actual ways of adaptation and creative rethinking of Ukrainian folk ornament motifs. A special role in this process was played by the use of graphics, whose artistic language has evolved rapidly under the influence of contemporary European styles. However, in the graphic works of Ukrainian artists, the appeal to folk ornamentation was one of several ways of self-identification with the national artistic tradition, so the practice of integrating those ornamental motifs into the book and magazine illustration was a significant component of the creative work of many artists during that period. 
Objectives. This paper aims at defining the role and importance of Ukrainian folk ornament in the modern (art nouveau) graphic, based on consideration of theoretical and applied aspects of the use of ornamental motifs, their creative comprehension by graphic artists of different regions of Ukraine. 
Methods. In this article we rely on art historian methods and general scientific methods, such as analysis and synthesis, analogy and system analysis to outline the features of several variants of the "Ukrainian style", representing different regional differences. Comparative analysis, methods of systematization and typology were used to reveal the peculiarities of the transformation of ornamental motifs under the influence of the individual manner of each artist and to present the theoretical background of the folk ornament usage, including concepts of the development of "Ukrainian style" in the visual and decorative arts.
Results. This article outlines several concepts of the use of Ukrainian folk ornament motives, elaborated by Ukrainian artists in the beginning of 20th century, period, which chronologically corresponds with the time of the paneuropean expansion of the art nouveau style. We can name an independent research of S. Vasylkivskyy, that allowed him to understand the artistic language of the Ukrainian ornament of different historical periods, and allowed the development of complex projects of interior design for new buildings. His projects demonstrate a harmonious synthesis of the traditions of folk art of the Dnieper Ukraine and Slobozhanshchyna (including specimens of paintings, carpets, ceramic tiles). Instead, V. Krychevs’kyy more often appealed to the ornamentation of Ukrainian weaving, while the main sources of decorative motifs for him were the ancient manuscripts, engravings and applied art of the Hetmanate. O. Slastion also addressed the study of the semantics of ornaments and their function in the system of folk art and culture in general. At first, he applied his own ideas in the projects of decoration of new buildings, constructed at the end of the XIX century in Poltava region, and later focused on the problem of updating the language of Ukrainian graphic art.
The genre differentiation of graphic arts actually accelerated the separation of the Ukrainian voice from the general eclectic Russian-imperial culture. The area through which this process could gain more momentum was an art postcard, which at that time became one of the catalysts for the formation of new communication standards in cities and towns. Popular authors in this specialization were A. Zhdakha, O. Slastion, S. Vasylkivskyy, who gave impetus to the main line of development of Ukrainian graphic design of "small forms" at an early stage of its formation. It is interesting to compare different author's approaches to the practice of incorporation and stylizing ornamental motifs – for example, M. Sosenko uses a much more extensive range of primary sources, among which not only is available local material (Ukrainian Carpathians' applied art, handwriting book of the 16th–17th centuries), but also folk art crafts of the Dnieper Ukraine and Slobozhanshchyna and at the same time he modernizes them under the influence of the secessionist style. During the early stages of the art nouveau development in Halychyna (1897–1907), which researchers call ornamental, book and magazine graphics, architecture, and fine arts became the areas where new trends emerged very fast. This process was facilitated by the similarity of artistic language in the works of graphics, monumental and decorative arts, in particular the use of sections of local color, subordinated to a clear linear pattern, which is perceived as a kind of outline for the main elements of the image. The ornamental motifs in the art of secession were interpreted as peculiar symbols – in the Ukrainian version of this style the ornamentation of folk art, especially the local Hutsul tradition, becomes especially important.
Conclusions. An important part of the strategy of national art revival of the late 19th – early 20th centuries was the introduction of ethnographic motifs to contemporary works of art. Architecture and graphics have undeniable advantages over other art genres in the sense of rapidly spreading the language of the new Ukrainian style to the widest audience possible. A special place was given to the printed postcards, the authors of which – both famous and anonymous artists, addressed primarily ethnographic topics. It is also important that, regardless of the specifics of regional variants of art nouveau, the practice of introducing ornamental motifs, plots and the images of Ukrainian folk art, re-imagined in more modern way, was a significant factor in asserting national identity, and was aimed at developing a universal artistic language.

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