Gregor Kruk (also Greg Kruk) was born in Bratyshiv, Galicia region of Ukraine, to a family of poor potters in 1911.
When a principal in local school recognized the young talent, he helped Kruk attend a high school where arts and crafts were taught.
After graduating, Kruk studied at the Lviv School of Decorative Art (1934) and apprenticed at a woodworking shop. Occasionally he visited the studio of sculptor Serhij Lytvynenko, whose work deeply inspired him. In 1937 Kruk received a recommendation to attend the Academy of Art in Krakow, where he met professors Bohdan Lepkyj, Volodymyr Kubiyovych, I. Zilinsky and stage actor Julian Genyk Berezowsky. At the Academy Kruk also met young sculptor Mykhajlo Chereshniovskyj and art historian Bohdan Stebelskyj, among other Ukrainian students. Kruk studied in the studio of Polish professor Konstantij Laszczka, who noticed Kruk’s talent. In 1940 Kruk moved to Berlin where he was accepted into the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied in the studios of professors Alfred Focke and Otto Hitzberger.
After the war, Kruk settled in Munich and set up his studio close to the Ukrainian Free University (UFU). Kruk did a lot of commissioned works. He also sculpted figures of peasants, monks, kozaks, bandura players, rabbis, working women and dancers. He executed sculptures of Prince Volodymyr the Great, Anna Yaroslavna, Hetman Mazepa, Taras Shevchenko and Patriarch Yosyf Slypyj. As for the forms, instead of working in classical tradition of Greek and Roman antiquity, Kruk preferred Rubens like statues, executed in primitive patterns. Some of the female statues resemble pagan fertility goddesses and Stepovi Baby - prehistoric matriarchal stone statues found in the Ukraine steppe. In his works the artist often conveys pain, suffering and futility. He is not only known for his monumental and miniature bronzes and clay sculptures but also for his drawings and lithographs. A permanent collection of 160 bronzes by Kruk is on display at the Lechfeldmuseum, Königsbrunn, Germany. In 1969, the UFU published Gregor Kruk, a two-volume monograph on Kruk’s sculpture. An album of his drawings was published in 1980. Numerous smaller books, brochures, pamphlets and cards dedicated to the sculptor’s work have been produced. A great number of critical reviews appeared in various languages.
Gregor Kruk died in Munich in 1988. His will was to be buried in Ukraine. A commemorative exhibition of works by Kruk was organized by The Ukrainian Canadian Art Foundation (KUMF) on September 7-22, 2002. Information for this article was obtained from a publication by Chrystia Stodilka-Curkowskyj.
October 30, 1911
December 5, 1988