Prairie Centre for the Study of Ukrainian Heritage ST. THOMAS MORE COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN

Riflemen Art: Visualizing “the Ukrainian War”

Oksana Dudko, a Petro Jacyk Fellow at PCUH, published the chapter “Riflemen Art: Visualising ‘the Ukrainian War’” in the book “Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism in Avant-Garde and Modernism: The Impact of the First World War.” The chapter explores how Galician Ukrainian wartime artists remolded the First World War into a “Ukrainian war”. It focuses specifically on the Artistic Handful (Artystychna horstka), a semi-official group of soldier-artists who operated within the Press Bureau (Presova Kvartyra). In discussing major themes represented in Riflemen art, this article argues that by refracting the war through a national lens, the art forged a new wartime reality that subsequently transformed soldiers’ lived experiences. Tracing Riflemen art during and after the First World War, the article pays particular attention to the Riflemen’s visual propaganda art, portrait series and cartoons, and depictions of warfare and fallen soldiers. It also explores the successive “recycling” of Riflemen art in nationalistic propaganda during the interwar and Second World War periods. Finally, sketching the perceptions of Riflemen art over the course of the 20th century, the article discusses the role of Riflemen artistic heritage within Ukrainian art.

Learn more about the book here:

Osyp Kurylas, The Portrait of Olena Stepaniv, ca. 1914–1918. 
[Unknown photographer] Ivan Ivanets (1893–1946, photo: ca. 1918). Photography. 
Ivan Ivanets, Skirmish, (1915–1918). Watercolor, paper.