If the idea for this special issue emerged from the Russian invasion of February 2022, its two editors and coordinators note from the introduction that Ukrainian heritage is “largely unknown, particularly in France”. The articles in the journal therefore seek to fill this gap, and address various subjects, from Soviet architecture to photography, including the work of Ilya Repin and the notion of “Ukrainian baroque”.
Several themes indirectly refer to the war, even if the authors (French, Ukrainian and German) rarely mention it. Thus Enguerrand Lascols’ article on Ukrainian pieces in the collections of French museums echoes a renewed interest in Ukraine for popular heritage and folklore, linked to resistance to the Russian invasion. And Fabien Bellat’s article on the reconstruction of Kiev under Stalin mentions recent photographs of destruction: it emerges that Ukrainian town planning is structured by the Soviet era (modernist buildings, monuments, statues).
The journal also offers a critical look at the lack of knowledge of art historians about Ukraine, in an article signed by a collective of German and Polish researchers. In this fascinating article, they highlight the “blind spots” research in art history in Germany and Poland, research focused on Byzantine and Soviet heritage, and questions of cultural identity. Between historical articles (the first Christian buildings) and specialized studies (the Kharkiv school of photography), this issue provides an instructive panorama of Ukrainian art and heritage brought to light despite themselves by the Russian invasion.