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Grekov Odessa Art school, Ukraine’s oldest art college, celebrates 155 years’ birthday.


This year, Odessa Art School had its 155th birthday. For the celebration of the anniversary, the courtyard of the school on Preobrazhenskaya Str. turned into an art gallery for two days. Students of “Grekovka” exhibited 62 of their works. The artworks had in common the same style: art deco.


The special guest of the event was Alla Maloman, great-niece of the French abstract artist Sonia Delaunay. At the exhibition, she presented her original work based on the prints of Sonia Delaunay: “The Unification of Times and Spiritual Memory”.

Sonia Delaunay is considered one of the most respected abstract artists, whose talent is truly multifaceted: she painted pictures, designed clothes and shoes, created theatrical costumes, tuned cars, illustrated books, weaved carpets. Today these traditions are continued by her granddaughter Alla Maloman, who revived the House of Arts Sonia Delaunay.

Elena Vesna, organiser of the event

At the celebration, it was possible to meet the sculptor Oleg Pinchuk, the painter Alexander Roytburd, listen to a lecture by art financier Denis Belkevich on the topic “Art Market: A Chronicle of a Historical Union” and a speech by the President of the Humanitarian Development Fund of Ukraine Natalia Zabolotnaya “Culture is the Driver of the Economy”. The event was also attended by the world chess champion, Natalia Zhukova from Odessa.

The best students’ art exhibits were awarded with prizes and the awarding ceremony took place at the Arcadia Plaza Hotel. The young painter Alexander Makogon, who won first place, got a trip to Paris with a visit to the Louvre and the Georges Pompidou Center. Moreover, Makogon’s painting will be the subject of a future print in Sonia Delaunay Maison products, with the author’s indication.

The winner of the second place was Ksenia Shunkarova. The third place Daria Vasilenko got the opportunity to present her works in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine at an exhibition of talented artists “Intelligent Nation”. In addition, all three works of the finalists will be exhibited at the Odessa Museum of Western and Eastern Art.

The main goal of this project is to draw attention to the development of art activities in the country, support young talents and revive the traditions of patronage. I hope we succeeded and we will be happy to continue our endeavors. The plans are to draw more attention to the problems of Grekovka and help talented children further.

Elena Vesna, events organiser

Meanwhile, the 155-year-old school has a lot of problems. One of them is the building of the assembly hall, that burned down back in 1993, together with a library with unique books and artworks of teachers. It still stands in the courtyard of the institution, as a mute reproach of mismanagement. The student canteen has been closed for a long time, and students and teachers have long ceased to complain about the gloomy cold toilets in the back of the yard.

Once upon a time in the mid-1990s – early 2000s, Grekovka’s diploma was equated to a lucky ticket in the lottery: a person who graduated from college could study further and work in their specialty, graduates were in great demand. Now it is a gray swamp, mentally stuck in the late Soviet Neocene. There are some good teachers, but otherwise everything is rather dull.

former student of Grekovka

The school is subordinate to the competence of the Regional council, which very poorly monitors the state of public institutions of the region, including architectural monuments.

The glorious past of Grekov Art School

The Grekov Odessa Art School is the oldest and one of the more renowned school of arts in Ukraine. It was founded as “Odessa Painting School”, on the 30th of May 1865. It was not a private institution, but an open Society of Fine Arts under the patronage of wealthy people of Odessa and Russian Empire.

Famous patrons of the art school were Governor-Generals Vorontsov, Kotzebue, Odessa’s mayor Novoselsky, counts Gagarin, Manuc Bei, Tolstoy family, the Italian General Consul Castiglia, the architects Boffo, Otton, Gonsiorovsky and many others.

For a long time the School had no permanent address. After 30 years, the problem of its location was cared by Franz Morandi, Vice President of the Odessa Society of Fine Arts, who received donations from the Milan Brera Academy of Fine Arts, which he had good relations with. The first stone of the building of the future of art school was laid on May 22nd, 1883, outside Preobrazheskaya str., 1. In 1885, the school was moved to its own premises.

In 1909, the Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich, sponsor of the school for 25 years, died. Therefore, the Odessa Art School was named after the Grand Duke’s name up to 1917. In 1924, after the Bolshevik coup, the school was renamed “Polytechnic College of Fine Arts” to prepare muralists, printers, potters. Only in 1934, the “Odessa Art Institute” once again became a secondary educational school.

In 1965, in honour of its 100th anniversary, the School received the name of Mitrofan Grekov, a famous Soviet battle painter and former pupil. Among the School’s famous students there were Vasilij Kandinskij, Pyotr Nilus, Isaak Brodsky, Lucien Dulfan.

Source: Dumskaya.net