[Germany]: Ukraina, 1948. Item #1403
107,  pp.: ill. 21x15 cm. In original illustrated wrappers. Rubbed, small tears of the edges (some repaired with tape), small fragments of the spine lost (one repaired with a tape), some soiling, ink signature on the title page, otherwise very good.
In Ukrainian. Very rare. Modernist cover design was likely produced by the artist and architect Evgen Blakitny (pseudonym of Evgen Nakonechny; 1914-1988). The front wrapper blends a fragment of an actor’s portrait with a silhouette of the actor in costume. Nakonechny studied at the Kyiv Art and Industrial School in 1928-1931 under V. Krychevsky, K. Eleva, Klimov, P. Andreev, and V. Obremsky. Later, he enrolled at the Kyiv Art Institute and the Leningrad Academy of Arts. In 1937, he participated in the design of the building of the Verkhovna Rada of the USSR under the guidance of the architect Volodymyr Zabolotny. From the 1930s, Nakonechny took part in Soviet architectural competitions and started to exhibit his paintings in the 1940s. After WWII, he was spotted at a displaced person camp. Nakonechny finally emigrated to the USA in 1949.
A collection of biographical essays about Iosif Hirniak (1895- 1989), an outstanding Ukrainian theater actor, director, and a theorist of Ukrainian theatrical art of the 20th century. The texts were written by the artist Evgen Blakitny and the journalists and critics Iury Dyvnych (pseudonym of Iurii Lavrinenko) and Vasyl Khmuryi.
Iosif Hirniak was born in the Strusov village (Ternopil region, Ukraine) and studied at the Rohatinsky gymnasium in 1911-1914. In 1915, he made his debut on the stage of a Lviv theater. In 1920, Hirniak moved to the Ukrainian SSR. In 1920-1921, he played on the stage of the Franko Theater in Vinnitsia where he met Olympia Dobrovolskaia, a young actress who became his spouse and companion (a picture of them is included). In 1922, he joined the Berezil creative circle. In 1926, Hirniak moved to Kharkiv together with the theater. As an actor, he mainly played comedic and character roles. Iosif got the leading roles in almost all experimental performances of Berezil in 1922-1933. He was imprisoned the next day after Berezil was shut down and the director Les Kurbas was arrested. Hirniak was accused of leading a counter-revolutionary organization together with Kurbas and Datskov. They were all sentenced to forced labor in Uchtpechlag (a labor camp in the Komi Republic). Hirniak managed to return to Ukraine in 1940, reuniting with his wife. After the Great Patriotic War, spouses refused to evacuate to Ashgabat. In 1942, they joined Vladimir Blavatsky in Lviv and created a drama section of the Lviv Opera Theater. Reviving Les Kurbas’ approach, the Lviv theater of 1942-1944 became the center of free Ukrainian theatrical art after ten years of Bolshevik repressions. In 1944, Hirniak and Dobrovolskaia were forced to leave Ukraine. In 1944-1949, they were in exile in Germany and Austria where they headed Ukrainian theatrical troupes and continued to produce, direct, and perform in many Ukrainian and West European plays. In 1949, Hirniak and Dobrovolskaia left for the USA. In 1953-1956, they founded and headed the Ukrainian Theater in the USA, and in 1956-1964 headed the Theater of the Word in New York.
The edition includes a list of roles played by Hirniak in various theaters, including in a GULAG camp. The list is followed by 34 photographs of Hirniak in make-up and costumes. The edition also features Hirniak’s caricature (by Blavatsky) and photo portraits of Hirniak and Kurbas alongside the Berezil collective.
Three of the four contributors mentioned (Hirniak, Lavrinenko, Khmuryi) became victims of the Stalinist repressions. Although published abroad, this book still relates to the executed Ukrainian Renaissance.
Worldcat shows copies located in LoC, Columbia, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Washington Universities, NYPL.