The Russian war in Ukraine continues to rage on, and every day we hear news of further destruction. As we witness the continued devastation and senseless loss of life, we also face the challenging question of how to best use our own opportunities to respond. The Denver Art Museum is a place that provides perspective through art and artist voices and serves to examine and celebrate our shared humanity. We welcome the community to the museum as a place of respite and inspiration—to find hope and shared connection in tumultuous times. And it is with this intent of sharing hope through the power of art that we have installed on the bridge between our buildings a reproduction of the colorful and imaginative 1982 painting by Ukrainian artist Maria Primachenko*, A Dove Has Spread Her Wings and Asks for Peace.
We join other artists and citizens worldwide sharing this symbol of hope in response to the reports a few weeks ago that a Russian attack hit the Ivankiv Historical and Local History Museum, which is about 50 miles northwest of Kyiv and was home to more than 20 of Primachenko’s paintings. While there also have been reports that a local man was able to save some of her paintings from the ensuing fire, it is unclear which artworks—and how many—may have survived the attack.
As the war on the capital of Ukraine and its people continues, 650 paintings and drawings by the artist held in the National Folk Decorative Art Museum also are at risk. Primachenko (1908–1997) is not only one of Ukraine’s most beloved artists—a self-taught artist best known for her colorful and imaginative scenes—she also is a national symbol of the cultural heritage and identity of Ukraine. Her paintings have appeared on Ukraine’s postage stamps and her likeness on its currency.
As a museum, our mission is to preserve and protect works of art for future generations to learn from and enjoy. And we stand in solidarity with, and have the deepest respect for, our colleagues in the Ukraine who are fighting to protect the country, its democratic values, its people, and its artworks.
There are many sources online to learn more about Maria Primachenko, the artist who inspired Picasso and is once again a symbol for survival and hope.
*You may see the artist's name spelled Primachenko, Prymachenko, or Pryimachenko.