People

10 Famous Ukrainians

Famous Ukrainians
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Famous Ukrainian actors, musicians, painters, and scientists, shaped the present we live in, in many (and different) extraordinary ways. 

If you want to learn more about them, guess what? You have found yourself in the right place! 

In this article, we are going to talk about some of the most famous people that were born in Ukraine, as well as their overall contributions to their country and the world.

So, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!

List of Famous Ukrainians

1. Alexander Archipenko

Alexander Archipenko was born in Kyiv in 1887. He was a student at the Kyiv Art School.

Like any talented Ukrainian of that time, he also dreamt of Moscow. He moved there and got the chance to exhibit his work alongside some of the best-known artists of that era. 

He started his own art school in Berlin and was the main star of the famous twelfth biennale in Venice [1].

He got American citizenship in 1929 and from then on, lived and worked there. He held exhibitions in Chicago, New York, and other art centers around the US. 

He is famous for the way he applied geometry in his sculpting, adopting principles of cubism and channeling his creativity in new, modern ways.

He died in New York in 1964. 

Related: 13 Most Famous Russians

2. Lee Strasberg

Lee Strasberg was born on the 17th of November, 1901, in Budzanow, then a Polish region, in today’s Ukraine. His father emigrated to the USA, and sent money back home so the whole family could also move to the “promised land”. 

A high school drop-out working in a shop that made hairpieces, his world turned upside down after his encounter with Stanislavski (that’s when his career as an actor truly began) [2].

In 1931, the Group Theatre was born, with Lee Strasberg as a co-founder. 

Strasberg invented The Method, which consists of many psychological and physical exercises, meant to break down the actor’s barrier between real life and life on stage. 

As a movie director, he is known for a short documentary called Story with Two Endings, depicting the disastrous results of WWI. 

Related: 11 Famous Polish People

3. Sergei Bondarchuk

Bondarchuk is one of the very few Ukrainian people that were very famous both internationally and in the Soviet Union.

He was born in Belozerka and spent his childhood in the cities of Yeysk and Taganrog. 

He studied theatre in Rostov-on-Don Theater School, but soon after was recruited to the Red Army, during World War II. He fought against Nazi Germany and was decorated for his courage and discharged with honors in 1946.

He is known for his sweeping period dramas, including the internationally acclaimed four-part adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace and the epic Waterloo.

He was made both a Hero of Socialist Labour and a People’s Artist of the USSR.

Bondarchuk remains one of the most famous Ukrainian theatre giants, both as an actor and as a writer.

4. Igor Stravinsky

Igor Stravinsky is a famous Russian music composer of Ukrainian descent and one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, both in his country and the world. 

His father was born in Ukraine, which was at that time under Russian influence, and went on to become a famous opera singer in the Kyiv Opera House. 

Despite being from a family involved in the arts, Igor was expected to become a lawyer.

Another important figure in his artistic development is his famous mentor Serge Diaghilev. People remember him mostly for his ballet pieces: The Firebird, Petrushka, and The Rite of Spring. 

Everything he tried in the world of music, made its way to the hearts of the audiences.

5. Mila Kunis

Mila is born in Chernivtsi, in a family of Ukrainian Jews and holocaust survivors. 

She lived in Ukraine until the age of 7 and then moved to the USA, without any knowledge of the country, the American culture, or even the English language.

But by the age of 14, she was well situated and had the main role as an actress in the famous American sitcom That 70’s show

In 2015 Mila Kunis married Ashton Kutcher, whom she met on the set of That 70’s show.

Related: Top 9 Russian Models

6. Ruslana

If you ever heard of Ruslana, it most probably is because of her Eurovision display, where she represented her country and even won the competition with the song Wild Dances.

Other than holding the title of People’s artist in Ukraine, Ruslana was a former member of the national parliament of Ukraine, as well as a former UNICEF Goodwill ambassador, and was marked as one of the ten most influential women in 2013.

She is born in Lviv, Ukraine, and has also been named as an honorary citizen of that region. 

7. Kazimir Malevich

The art giant of Ukraine went under the name of Kazimir Malevich. 

He is one of the most influential avant-garde figures in the history of Ukraine and Russia as well as the World.

He was born in Kyiv as the eldest of nine children in a Polish family. 

He made history in the art world with the painting “Black Square”, which was the first radical abstract painting. The Black Square was first exhibited in Petrograd in 1915. 

In 1915 he also wrote a manifesto in which he lays the foundations of Suprematism. 

Later, Malevich painted the White on White and the Red Square thus making the three phases of suprematism: black, white, and red. 

He lived for most of his life in Moscow.

8. Dustin Hoffman

A little-known fact about Dustin Hoffman is that he was born in a Jewish family of immigrants from Kyiv, Ukraine. 

Although his origin is Jewish, he claims that his upbringing was non-religious.

Hoffman’s debut as an actor in the film The Graduate, for which he received his first Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. 

People know him for his roles in famous blockbusters such as Rain Man (1988), Marathon Man (1976), and Meet the Fockers (2004) with another famous actor Robert De Niro. 

9. Milla Jovovich

Mila Jovovich was born on the 17th of December, 1975, in Kyiv, Ukraine. 

She lived in the Soviet Union up until the age of 5. She started modeling at the age of 12. 

In 1988, Milla Jovovich starred in her first role as an actress in the famous movie Two Moon Junction. One of the most notable moments of her acting career is her appearance as an actress in The Fifth Element. 

10. Wilhelm Reich

When talking of psychoanalysis, you can’t forget to mention Wilhelm Reich. 

He was born on the 24th of March, 124 years ago in Dobzau (present-day Ukraine). 

Both of his parents were Jewish, and so was his upbringing. 

Willhelm Reich is a part of the second-generation psychoanalysts, a sublime writer and explorer in the field, considered by many as equally important as Sigmund Freud.  

He met Freud in 1919. On that occasion, he asked Freud for a reading list at the seminar, and they immediately caught each other’s attention. 

A few years later, Reich started working at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Association. 

He completed his M.D. in 1922 and won a Nobel prize in 1927,

The Bottom Line

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about some of the most influential and interesting that came from Ukraine. 

References

  1. https://www.labiennale.org/en/architecture/2021
  2. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Konstantin-Stanislavsky

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