ExhibitionsGeorge Voronovsky: Memoryscapes
Past Exhibition

George Voronovsky: Memoryscapes

March 24 – August 13, 2023

In 1972, Ukrainian-born self-taught artist George Voronovsky (1903–1982) moved from Philadelphia to Miami Beach to take up long-term residence in a third-floor room of the Colony Hotel. Over the last decade of his life, he filled the room with hundreds of artworks, covering his walls with dense mosaics of paintings and hand-carved Styrofoam sculpture, his materials salvaged from the detritus of his South Beach neighborhood. A refugee of the Second World War and a former railroad worker, Voronovsky constructed a space at the hotel that one journalist of the period aptly described as a “defiant oasis of color and light.”

As the first major public presentation of this self-taught artist’s work, this exhibition connects his fantastically colorful memory paintings to the places and traditions he cherished back home in Ukraine, which have once again been devastated as a result of the 2022 Russian invasion. Though Voronovsky’s Colony Hotel room is not decorated as it once was, the exhibition gestures to its former magnificence, through imaginative hangings and graphics, as a space for beauty, memory, and healing.

Portrait of George Voronovsky, 1978–1982, by Gary Monroe (American, born 1951).


Explore an interactive timeline featuring historical photographs and materials from Voronovsky’s personal archive to learn more about his life.


Untitled (Dancers and Fireworks), 1978–1982

Paint on canvas
Courtesy of the Monroe Family Collection

Filled with electric streetlamps, contemporary costumes, and well-choreographed ballerinas, the lower half of this painting is an ode to a modern and internationalized early twentieth-century Ukraine. By contrast, the top half is a chaotic mix of pure whimsy and colorful symbols from Ukrainian folk art, which together double as a firework show. Soaring across the sky is a multicolored firebird, a mythological creature of Slavic folklore symbolizing rebirth and happiness. By combining these disparate elements—real and imagined, modern and folk—Voronovsky achieves a stylistic and cultural synthesis, which animates much of his work.

Untitled (Dancers and Fireworks) Voronovsky

Untitled (Circus), 1978–1982

Paint on canvas
Courtesy of the Monroe Family Collection

Voronovsky likely experienced one of the many traveling circuses that passed through Ukraine while he lived there. He captures the excitement of these itinerant events, transforming a riverfront location with acrobats and animals who balance, explode, and swing through the sky. The bold colors and dozens of figures in this scene also reflect his talent for orchestrating organized chaos, both on canvas and in the space of his abundantly decorated hotel room.

Untitled (Circus) Voronovsky

Untitled (Fowl on a Fence), ca. 1977–1979

Paint on cardboard
Courtesy of the Monroe Family Collection

Voronovsky reused all kinds of materials as canvases for his paintings, and many of them came from items discarded at the beach. On the other side of this typical forest scene are the graphic imprint and grease stains of a Pizza Hut box. By the late 1970s—when a small “thin-and-crispy” cheese pizza cost only $2.35—there were at least a dozen Pizza Huts in the Miami area. The chain unveiled its tagline “Let yourself go to Pizza Hut” in 1977, recording a TV ad jingle and emblazoning the phrase on its carryout boxes, helping us to date this work.

Untitled (Fowl on a Fence) Voronovsky

Untitled (The Moon), 1972–1982

Paint on Styrofoam
Courtesy of the Monroe Family Collection

Untitled (Foxes Howling at the Moon) Voronovsky

Untitled (Trout Fisherman), 1978–1982

Acrylic on canvas
Courtesy of the Monroe Family Collection

A grant from the Florida Arts Council in the late 1970s allowed Voronovsky to purchase stretched canvases and better paint. Though all his works are done in different types of store-bought paints—perhaps from the local Woolworth’s five-and-dime store—here he uses an acrylic paint that he likely purchased at Rex Art, an art supply store in nearby Coral Gables. The higher-quality paint creates the surface of the froth on the central waterfall and the steam bubbles of the passing locomotive.

Untitled (Trout Fisherman) Voronovsky

Untitled (Kyiv), 1978–1982

Acrylic on canvas
Courtesy of the Monroe Family Collection
Untitled (Kyiv) Voronovsky

Untitled (The Giant Turnip), 1978–1982

Paint on canvas
Courtesy of the Monroe Family Collection

Voronovsky depicts “The Giant Turnip,” a beloved folktale about a grandfather who, unable to pull an oversized turnip from the ground, requires the help of his family, and eventually, the neighborhood animals. Some of Ukraine’s most famous folk artists, including Maria Prymachenko, tackled the subject as well. Voronovsky paints this community effort against a backdrop of local architecture and the region’s ubiquitous sunflowers—a symbol of resistance in this most recent conflict—as well as the watermelon patches found in Southern Ukraine. He also applies thick layers of paint for the turnip, depicting its still-soiled state.

Untitled (The Giant Turnip) Voronovsky

Untitled (Spring Festival), 1978–1982

Paint on canvas
Courtesy of the Monroe Family Collection

Untitled (Spring Festival) Voronovsky

Untitled (Dancers and Cheerleaders I), 1978–1982

Paint on canvas
Courtesy of the Monroe Family Collection

Untitled (Dancers and Cheerleaders I) Voronovsky

Untitled (Lummus Park, Miami Beach), 1972–1982

Paint on cardboard
Courtesy of the Monroe Family Collection

From his home on the third floor of the Colony Hotel, Voronovsky enjoyed a view of Lummus Park and the southernly stretches of the beach. Running between 5th and 15th streets in Miami Beach, Lummus Park features a coral rock wall that separates the green spaces of the park from the sandy beaches. Here Voronovsky captures the soaring coconut palms, the screw pine with its bulbous roots and conical canopy, and the tiki huts that once dotted South Beach.

Untitled (Lummus Park, Miami Beach) Voronovsky

Untitled (Gathering Mushrooms), 1972–1982

Paint on cardboard
Courtesy of the Monroe Family Collection

This idyllic forest scene highlights the activity of the Ukrainian countryside: trees felled, stored, or carried off; a woman fetching water from a well; deer and horses grazing. In the foreground, people with baskets gather wild mushrooms, a tradition in villages throughout Eastern Europe. Just as these people transform natural materials into human fuel—trees into lumber, mushrooms into food—so did Voronovsky convert discarded materials into an artist’s support. This work of art is painted on the cardboard packaging of a plastic floatie, repurposed from the trash of beachside tourism as a canvas for a childhood memory.

Untitled (Gathering Mushrooms) Voronovsky

Untitled (Flock of Geese), 1978–1982

Acrylic on canvas
Courtesy of the Monroe Family Collection

Xlgv008 Voronovsky

This exhibition is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.

Premier Exhibition Series Sponsor

Premier Exhibition Series Supporters

ACT Foundation, Inc.
William N. Banks, Jr.
Cousins Foundation
Burton M. Gold
Sarah and Jim Kennedy 

Benefactor Exhibition Series Supporters

Robin and Hilton Howell

Ambassador Exhibition Supporters

Mrs. Fay S. Howell/The Howell Fund
The Fred and Rita Richman Fund
Louise Sams and Jerome Grilhot
Mrs. Harriet H. Warren
Elizabeth and Chris Willett 

Contributing Exhibition Series Sponsor

Contributing Exhibition Series Supporters

Farideh and Al Azadi 
Sandra and Dan Baldwin
Mr. Joseph H. Boland, Jr.
Mr. and Mrs. Robin E. Delmer
Peggy Foreman
Helen C. Griffith  
Mr. and Mrs. Baxter Jones
Joel Knox and Joan Marmo 
Margot and Danny McCaul 
Wade A. Rakes II & Nicholas Miller
USI Insurance Services 

Generous support is also provided by

Alfred and Adele Davis Exhibition Endowment Fund, Anne Cox Chambers Exhibition Fund, Barbara Stewart Exhibition Fund, Dorothy Smith Hopkins Exhibition Endowment Fund, Eleanor McDonald Storza Exhibition Endowment Fund, The Fay and Barrett Howell Exhibition Fund, Forward Arts Foundation Exhibition Endowment Fund, Helen S. Lanier Endowment Fund, John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Exhibition Endowment Fund, Katherine Murphy Riley Special Exhibition Endowment Fund, Margaretta Taylor Exhibition Fund, and the RJR Nabisco Exhibition Endowment Fund.