The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York quietly reclassified some of his paintings. Two artists previously labeled Russian are now classified as Ukrainian, and a painting by French impressionist Edgar Degas was renamed “Russian Dancer” as “Dancer in Ukrainian Costume.”
For a Kiev woman, these changes are a kind of justification. Oksana Semenik, a journalist and historian, has been campaigning for months to convince American institutions to rename historical artworks that, in her opinion, are misrepresented as Russian.
The Met includes works by Ilya Repin and Arkhip Kuintji, artists who were native speakers of Ukrainian and who depicted many Ukrainian scenes, even though the region was once part of the Russian Empire.
Now a famous 19th-century painter born in the Ukraine, Repin was renamed “Ukrainian, born in the Russian Empire” in the Met catalog, and the beginning of every description of his work now reads: “Repin was born in the Ukrainian rural town of Suhuiv (Sukhiv) when it was part of the Russian Empire.”
On the Ukrainian art history Semenyk Twitter account, which has more than 17,000 followers, he wrote: “All famous landscapes [de Repin] They are about Ukraine, Dnipro and steppes. But also about the Ukrainian people.”
One of Repin’s lesser-known contemporaries, Khundshi was born in Mariupol in 1842, when the Ukrainian city was also part of the Russian Empire. Kuindzhi’s “Red Sunset” text at the Met has been updated to read “In March 2022, the Kuindzhi Art Museum in Mariupol, Ukraine, was destroyed in a Russian airstrike.”
Referring to the recent renaming process, the Met said in a statement to CNN that it “continually examines and reviews the items in its collection to determine the most appropriate and accurate way to catalog and present them.” This list of works has been updated after investigation with experts in the field”.