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Alexis Gritchenko

  • Given name:
    Alexis
  • Last name:
    Gritchenko
  • Alternative names:

    Алексей Грищенко, Олексі́й (Олекса) Васильович Грищенко, Alexey Gritchenko, Oleksa Hryshchenko

  • Date of Birth:
    02-04-1883
  • Place of Birth:
    Krolevets (UA)
  • Date of Death:
    28-01-1977
  • Place of Death:
    Vence (FR)
  • Profession:
    Art HistorianPainter
  • Introduction:

    During the two years of his life that he spent in Istanbul, Alexis Gritchenko produced more paintings dedicated to the city than many artists produce in an entire lifetime.

    Word Count: 29

  • Signature Image:
    Portrait of Alexis Gritchenko by Turkish painter Namık İsmail, 1920. Private collection. Istanbul, Meşher Art Gallery, “Alexis Gritchenko – İstanbul Yılları” Exhibition (Photo: Ekaterina Aygün, 2020).
  • Content:

    During the two years of his life that he spent in Istanbul, Alexis Gritchenko produced more paintings dedicated to the city than many artists produce in an entire lifetime. Gritchenko is also particularly known for his memoirs titled Deux Ans à Constantinople (Two Years in Constantinople), an invaluable source that tells us about his life as a Russian-speaking émigré painter in the occupied city. However, despite the fact that Gritchenko left the Russian Empire to escape the civil war which followed the Russian Revolution, he, by his own admission, decided to flee partly out of a long-held desire to live and work in Istanbul, a city of which he had a surprisingly deep knowledge and which excited his imagination. The reality of life in Istanbul turned out to be much harsher than he had expected, but this did not stop him from working tirelessly and making a colossal number of works. He and his closest friend in Istanbul, Dimitri Ismailovitch, explored the city together and studied many of the local Byzantine monuments. As someone who generally got along well with people, he also formed close friendships with a number of Turkish artists and even lived for some time at the home of Turkish painter Ibrahim Çallı. After Istanbul he set off to conquer Paris with the money he received for the 66 artworks featuring Byzantine city walls and churches that he sold to the American archaeologist Thomas Whittemore (who stayed at the Pera Palace Hotel and worked with Nikolai Kluge at Hagia Sophia). He managed to conquer Paris almost immediately, starting with his first solo exhibition Constantinople Bleu et Rose (Constantinople Blue and Rose), which took place in 1922. He continued to live in France, but travelled frequently to other countries such as Greece, Spain and Italy in search of inspiration. Gritchenko organised many solo exhibitions in Paris and other cities around the world. In 1953, his works were exhibited in London's Redfern Gallery at the Russian émigré artists in Paris exhibition, and in 1958 the Ukrainian Institute of America in New York organised a retrospective exhibition dedicated to the artist’s 75th birthday. Today, the artist’s works can be seen in the most famous museums in the world (National Art Museum in Kiev, National Museum of Modern Art in Paris, Museum of Modern Art in Madrid, museums in Lviv, Copenhagen, Montreal, Boston, etc.). In 2020, works from his Istanbul period were brought together from all over the world and exhibited in Istanbul. Last but not least, Gritchenko developed his own art direction, tsvetodynamos (or dynamocolor/colordynamos, a combination of “colour” and dynamics”).

    Word Count: 428

  • Media:
    Portrait of Alexis Gritchenko by Turkish painter Namık İsmail, 1920. Private collection. Istanbul, Meşher Art Gallery, “Alexis Gritchenko – İstanbul Yılları” Exhibition (Photo: Ekaterina Aygün, 2020).
    Istanbul, Meşher Art Gallery, “Alexis Gritchenko – İstanbul Yılları” Exhibition (Photo: Ekaterina Aygün, 2020).
    Byzantine Church Converted Into a Mosque, March 1920. Collection of the National Art Museum of Ukraine. Istanbul, Meşher Art Gallery, “Alexis Gritchenko – İstanbul Yılları” Exhibition (Photo: Ekaterina Aygün, 2020).
    Landscape with Domes, October 1920. Collection of the National Art Museum of Ukraine. Istanbul, Meşher Art Gallery, “Alexis Gritchenko – İstanbul Yılları” Exhibition (Photo: Ekaterina Aygün, 2020).
    Street in Eyüp, November 1920. Ömer Koç Koleksiyonu. Istanbul, Meşher Art Gallery, “Alexis Gritchenko – İstanbul Yılları” Exhibition (Photo: Ekaterina Aygün, 2020).
    Three Turks in a Coffeehouse, February 1921. Ömer Koç Koleksiyonu. Istanbul, Meşher Art Gallery, “Alexis Gritchenko – İstanbul Yılları” Exhibition (Photo: Ekaterina Aygün, 2020).
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Alexis Gritchenko. The Constantinople Years, edited by Ayşenur Güler and Vita Susak, exh. cat. Meşher, Istanbul, 2020.

    Gritchenko, Alexis. İstanbul’da İki Yıl 1919–1921 – Bir Ressamın Günlüğü. Translated by Ali Berktay, Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2020.

    Hewitt, Simon. “Slaughtered Genius: Alexis Gritchenko – Dynamocolor. Book Available.” 26 December 2017, russianartandculture.com, https://www.russianartandculture.com/slaughtered-genius-alexis-gritchenko-dynamocolor/. Accessed 20 June 2020.

    Vzdornov, Gerol’d. “Russkiye hudojniki i vizantiyskaya starina v Konstantinopole.” Tvorchestvo, no. 2, 1992, pp. 30–32.

    Word Count: 71

  • Author:
    Ekaterina Aygün
  • Exile:

    Istanbul, Ottoman Empire/Turkey (1919–1921); Paris, France (1921–1924); Southern France (1924–1977).

  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    Overnight shelter in Harbiye, Istanbul (residence); camp controlled by the British Occupation Forces in Büyükada between March and July 1920 (residence and studio in Istanbul); family mansion in Beşiktaş of Turkish painter Namık İsmail in 1920 (studio in Istanbul); attic in the house in Çemberlitaş belonging to Turkish painter Ibrahim Çallı between October and December 1920 (residence and studio in Istanbul).

  • Metropolis:
    Istanbul
  • Ekaterina Aygün. "Alexis Gritchenko." METROMOD Archive, 2021, https://archive.metromod.net/viewer.p/69/2949/object/5138-10436381, last modified: 16-09-2021.
  • Leon Trotsky
    Politician

    Banished by Stalin, the revolutionary politician Leon Trotsky and his entourage arrived in Istanbul in 1929. He settled on Büyükada, one of the Princes’ Islands in the Sea of Marmara.

    Word Count: 31

    Trotsky at his desk, Büyükada, 1931, detail (Heijenoort 1978, 15).
    Trotsky at his desk, Büyükada, 1931 (Heijenoort 1978, 15).Yanaros Villa, Nizam Mahallesi Hamlacı Sokak No. 4, residence and exile domicile of Leon Trotsky on Büyükada, 1932/1933 (Heijenoort 1978, 10).Yanaros Villa, Nizam Mahallesi Hamlacı Sokak No. 4, Büyükada, 1932–33, view from the cul-de-sac (Heijenoort 1978, 10).Trotsky and entourage on a boat trip, Büyükada, around 1931–33 (Heijenoort 1978, 12).Yanaros Villa, Nizam Mahallesi Hamlacı Sokak No. 4, Büyükada, site of the 14th Istanbul Biennial in 2015 (Photo: Burcu Dogramaci).Adrián Villar Rojas’ installation The Most Beautiful of All Mothers at the Yanaros Villa, Nizam Mahallesi Hamlacı Sokak No. 4, Büyükada, as part of the 14th Istanbul Biennial in 2015 (Photo: Burcu Dogramaci).
    Istanbul
    Dimitri Ismailovitch
    PainterArt Historian

    In Istanbul, Ismailovitch became one of the leaders of the Union of Russian Painters in Constantinople, organised three solo exhibitions, and made contribution to the study of Byzantine art.

    Word Count: 29

    Dimitri Ismailovitch with his bust created by Polish sculptor Roman Bilinski, Istanbul, Summer 1922. Source: Scrapbook “To Mr. and Mrs. Stearns from Russian Painters”, p. 8 (Stearns Family Papers. Archives & Special Collections. The College of the Holy Cross).
    Dimitri Ismailovitch, 1907, Sumy Cadet Corps (with permission from https://www.ria1914.info/).Dimitri Ismailovitch with his bust created by Polish sculptor Roman Bilinski, Istanbul, Summer 1922. Source: Scrapbook “To Mr. and Mrs. Stearns from Russian Painters”, p. 8 (Stearns Family Papers. Archives & Special Collections. The College of the Holy Cross).Reproduction of the Kariye Mosque’s mosaic. In the foreground is its author, Dimitri Ismailovitch (Russkiye na Bosfore. Les Russes sur le Bosphore Almanac, 1928, n.p.).Photographs of the artworks by Dimitri Ismailovitch, 1923. Source: Album “To Mr. and Mrs. Stearns from D. Ismailovitch”, XII–XI, p. 11 (Stearns Family Papers. Archives & Special Collections. The College of the Holy Cross).Photographs of the artworks by Dimitri Ismailovitch, 1924. Source: Album “To Mr. and Mrs. Stearns from D. Ismailovitch”, 9–10, p. 24 (Stearns Family Papers. Archives & Special Collections. The College of the Holy Cross).Photographs of the artworks by Dimitri Ismailovitch. Source: Album “To Mr. and Mrs. Stearns from D. Ismailovitch”, p. 36 (Stearns Family Papers. Archives & Special Collections. The College of the Holy Cross).Front cover of the 1948 Dimitri İsmailovitch exhibition catalogue (© Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux).Ekaterina Aygün chanced upon Dimitri Ismailovitch's visiting card at the Avni Lifij exhibition in Istanbul. This is further evidence of contact between Ismailovitch and Turkish painters (Photo: Ekaterina Aygün, 2019).The Piyale Pasha Mosque (was designed by Mimar Sinan and rebuilt in the mid. of the 19th century) was depicted by Dimitri İsmailovitch and Alexis Gritchenko in 1920 (Photo: Ekaterina Aygün, 2021).
    Istanbul
    Nikolai Kalmykoff
    PainterScene DesignerMuralist

    Kalmykoff played an active part in the Union of Russian Painters in Constantinople and at the same time worked as a stage designer. Later he acquired the Turkish citizenship.

    Word Count: 29

    Nikolai Kalmykoff (http://www.antikalar.com/naci-kalmukoglu).
    Nikolai Kalmykoff (http://www.antikalar.com/naci-kalmukoglu).Naci Kalmukoğlu, Liman (© Ankara Devlet Resim ve Heykel Müzesi).Naci Kalmukoğlu, Köyde tütün işleyenler (© Ankara Devlet Resim ve Heykel Müzesi).Works by Nikolai Kalmykoff (Ulus, 12 February 1941, p. 2).Works by Nikolai Kalmykoff (Ulus, 13 February 1941, p. 1).Nikolai Kalmykoff by Turkish caricaturist Ratip Tahir Burak (Ulus, 27 March 1943, p. 2).Exhibition in Ankara (Ulus, 28 March 1943, p. 2).Fortuneteller, by Nikolai Kalmykoff (Ulus, 15 November 1947, p. 3).
    Istanbul
    Russkiy v Konstantinopole/Le Russe à Constantinople
    Guide-book

    The guide-book was created for Russian-speaking refugees who had to leave their country and settle in Constantinople.

    Word Count: 17

    Russkiy v Konstantinopole / Le Russe à Constantinople, 1921, cover (Slavonic Library/Slovanská knihovna, Prague).
    Announcement concerning the publication of the guide-book in the Russian newspaper Presse du Soir, 1921, n.p. (Slavonic Library/Slovanská knihovna, Prague).Russkiy v Konstantinopole / Le Russe à Constantinople, 1921, cover (Slavonic Library/Slovanská knihovna, Prague).Layout of the Grand Rue de Péra (Istiklal Street) from the guide-book, 1921 (Slavonic Library/Slovanská knihovna, Prague).Schematic plan of Constantinople for ‘Russian’ refugees in the guide-book Russkiy v Konstantinopole/Le Russe à Constantinople, 1921 (Slavonic Library/Slovanská knihovna, Prague).Most common words in Turkish for ‘Russian’ refugees from the guide-book, 1921 (Slavonic Library/Slovanská knihovna, Prague).
    Istanbul
    Nikolai Kluge
    PainterPhotographerArt restorerArchaeologistCopyist

    As a non-regular employee at the Russian Archaeological Institute of Constantinople before the Russian Revolution, Nikolai Kluge was perhaps the émigré artist most familiar with Istanbul.

    Word Count: 26

    Nikolai Kluge (right) and Thomas Whittemore (left) at Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, 1944. Fonds Thomas Whittemore – Institut byzantin, Subgroup 01–Series 08 (© Bibliothèque byzantine, Collège de France).
    Nikolai Kluge (right) and Thomas Whittemore (left) at Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, 1944. Fonds Thomas Whittemore – Institut byzantin, Subgroup 01–Series 08 (© Bibliothèque byzantine, Collège de France).Photo by Nikolai Kluge (The title page of the publication Kariye Camii. Album for the XI volume of Izvestia of the Russian Archaeological Institute in Constantinople, Munich, 1906).
    Istanbul
    Pera Palace Hotel
    Hotel

    The Pera Palace was the gem of Pera district where people gathered to wine and dine and be entertained, as well as to discuss the issues of the day.

    Word Count: 29

    Pera Palace Hotel, Tepebaşı (SALT Araştırma, Fotoğraf ve Kartpostal Arşivi, Istanbul).
    Pera Palace Hotel, Tepebaşı (SALT Araştırma, Fotoğraf ve Kartpostal Arşivi, Istanbul).Image of Pera Palace Hotel (Güneş Newspaper, 14 April 1991).Jazz-Band du Pera Palace by photographer Jean Weinberg (Les Russes sur le Bosphore Almanac, 1928).
    Istanbul