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Mikhail
Ivanovich the Beetle

Ukraine 
1883−1964
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Mikhail Ivanovich Zhuk (September 20, 1883, Kakhovka - June 7, 1964, Odessa) - Ukrainian artist, outstanding teacher, writer, adherent of the Art Nouveau style.

Features of the artist Mikhail Zhuk: in the master’s early works, one can see a craving for Western European Art Nouveau, its ornamentality and decorativeness, the desire to fill the paintings with associative meaning. The artist worked a lot in the technique of etching, lithography, laminorite, engraving. A wonderful colorist, master of composition, Mikhail Zhuk is the author of a gallery of graphic and pictorial portraits of prominent Ukrainian cultural figures, in particular Taras Shevchenko, Lesia Ukrainka, Alexandra Murashko, Les Kurbas. The artist preferred to work in pastel, charcoal, pencil, watercolor, mixing materials for the sake of interesting effects. Many works of the Beetle are made with elements of ornamental improvisation - one of the visiting cards of the master.

Famous paintings by artist Mikhail Zhuk: «Fairy tale","Actress Mumine","Portrait of Mikhail Kotsyubinsky", A series of self-portraits (1, 2, 3).

Read also:"Ukrainian Art Nouveau: the style of free artists"

Mikhail Zhuk was from a poor family and from childhood was forced to earn a piece of bread: he painted fences, painted signs and simple icons. When the boy was 13 years old, the family moved to Kiev. Mikhail entered the Kiev drawing school Alexandra Murashkowhere his mentors becameKhariton Platonov and Nikolay Pymonenko. After leaving school, the Beetle went on to continue his studies at the Moscow School of Painting, but the drill and the treasury were unbearable. A year later, he went to complete his education at the Cracow Academy of Arts toStanislav Vyspiansky - and there flourished as an artist and as a future writer, in 1904 he completed courses in portraiture and frescoes with silver medals. In autumn, his first (and last) solo exhibition was held at the Kiev City Museum.

The time has come. In 1905, the artist moved with his family to Chernigov, where he taught drawing at the Kuznetsova female gymnasium, at the Jewish school, in the Theological Seminary. Mikhail Zhuk devoted a lot of time to portraits; actors and artists, poets and writers became his models. The artist was friends with Ivan Franko, with the families of the Grushevsky and Kotsyubinsky. The growth of professionalism was supported by success at exhibitions. After the October Revolution, Mikhail Zhuk - together with George Narbut,Fedor andVasily Krichevsky,Mykola Boychuk and other artists - became one of the founders of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts, where, in addition to teaching (decorative painting), he served as secretary and treasurer. In 1919 he returned to Chernigov.

For almost 40 years, the work of Mikhail Zhuk was connected with Odessa: in 1925 he became a professor in the graphic workshop of the Odessa Polytechnic of Arts. Here he taught, thoroughly studied lithography, and later became vice-rector of the Odessa Art Institute. Under the leadership of the Beetle, an active study of the traditions of folk art began, a ceramic faculty was opened, which released a number of high-class masters.

All his life, Mikhail Zhuk, like his beloved teacher, artist Stanislav Vyspiansky, was engaged in literary activities. From 1908 to 1930, ten books of the Beetle - fairy tales, plays, poems, were released. It was the Beetle who created in 1918 the first wreath of sonnets in Ukrainian. At the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater, they put on Spendiarov’s opera Almast, the libretto of which was translated by Mikhail Zhuk. He also became the author of Ukrainian translations of the works of Oscar Wilde and Alexander Blok. Beetle’s plays were often staged at the Chernihiv Theater. Zankovetskaya.

In the last years of his life, Mikhail Zhuk was often ill. Bedridden, he devoted much time to literary activity, wrote memoirs and poems. Mikhail Zhuk passed away at the age of 81.

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