A historic event has recently taken place: 164 works by 20 contemporary Ukrainian artists were donated to the Centre national d’art et de culture Georges-Pompidou. An island of contemporary Ukrainian culture has appeared in one of the world’s major museums.

Until recently, works by Ukrainian artists were rarely included in the Pompidou Center only because their authors had worked in Moscow for some time and were identified as “Russian.” The members of the Ukrainian Club of Contemporary Art Collectors, on the initiative of the Club’s President Zenko Aftanaziv, set out to prove that Ukrainian art is on a par with the world’s leading schools and deserves to be represented independently at the Pompidou Center. To achieve this goal, they were ready to donate the best exhibits of their collections to the French museum. In order to familiarize French experts with Ukrainian contemporary art, it took five years to hold numerous meetings with them.

The selection of works worthy of inclusion in the Pompidou Center’s collection was made by curator Nicolas Luci-Gutnikov, who studied the works of artists from Kyiv, Odesa, and Kharkiv. The study of contemporary art in Odesa was organized by the director of the ICA Semen Kantor. Before coming to Odesa, the French curator knew only Odesa conceptualism, which he perceived as part of Moscow, but after meeting with our artists and art critics, he became convinced of the independence and high level of creativity of Odesa residents.


In addition to a series of works by Serhiy Anufriev, Nicolas Luci-Gutnikov chose photos by Viktor Ratushnyi, Heorhiy Kizevalter, and Oleksandr Shevchuk from the exhibitions of Volodymyr Naumets and Leonid Voitsekhov. He was interested in the contemporary reinterpretation of world cinema classics in the video art of Oleksandr Roitburd. But the biggest surprise was the work of Oleg Sokolov. Not only the artist’s symbolic abstract works, but also his minimalist works containing only a few words, for example, “As is” (“As is” / “How to eat”); “Splash of one hand” (“Splash of one palm”) and others.

At the beginning of 2021, collectors Vadym Morokhovskyi, Yevhen Demenok, and Tetiana Osadcha donated 36 works by Odesa artists to the Georges Pompidou Center. 

After a long preparation, the exhibition of the main part of the gifts to the Pompidou Center was opened on November 21, 2022. The exhibition was curated by the deputy director of the National Art Museum of Ukraine Oksana Barshynova. The exhibition was opened by the Ambassador of Ukraine to France Vadym Omelchenko and Xavier Rey, Director of the Musée National d’Art Moderne, a member of the Georges Pompidou Center. Ukrainian artists, curators, collectors, and their French colleagues attended the vernissage. 

The event is hard to overestimate. This is an eloquent demonstration of the demand for Ukrainian culture in the world, and an important component of overcoming the postcolonial inferiority complex that is still characteristic of Ukrainian culture.