Ukraine, Art Nouveau and the Debate Over “Westernization”


What will become of Ukraine’s aspirations to join the West and embrace cosmopolitan modernity?  It’s not the first time the country has sought to negotiate western cultural influence, as evidenced by a few art nouveau buildings peeping through Kyiv’s cityscape.  The buildings, which date to the Czarist period, attest to Ukraine’s openness to Europe, though needless to say art nouveau was not universally embraced by the Czarist public at the time.

Most residents of Kyiv are familiar with the grand Bessarabsky market.

Perhaps the most well-known art nouveau building in Kyiv was constructed by the architect Wladyslaw Horodetski.  The “House With Chimeras,” a mansion, is decorated in aquatic and animal motifs.

Horodetski also designed the Karaim Kenasa, which is nearby (for more on the Kenasa and the Karaites, see here).

Building along Kostolna Street, near Maidan square.

Entrance to a building along Kostolna Street.

Makovsky clinics building facade.

Mansion along Luteranska Street.

Building facade, Luteranska Street.

“Chocolate House” mansion.

Interior of the chocolate house.

Walking near Maidan square, one comes along another art nouveau building along Arkhitektora Horodetskoho Street.

On the other side of Maidan square, I came upon yet more buildings.


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