Heorhiy Narbut (1886–1920) is one of the most prominent Ukrainian graphic artists and illustrators of the first half of the 20th century.
Narbut founded the Ukrainian font school. He designed the coat of arms and seal for the Ukrainian state, popularized Trident as the national emblem, and also designed money for Ukrainian governments…
He was obsessed with heraldry. Narbut explored and designed coats. One of Narbut’s most famous font works is the Ukrainian Alphabet, which became a pattern of Ukrainian graphics. Currently, his fonts are used by graphic designers all around the world.
In his Kyiv period, Narbut had a huge goal – rekindle the glory of books in general, raise the printers’ skills, create not only art but also a national-Ukrainian book, develop a new font, and enlighten the public through art. And he succeeded. Narbut was the first in Ukraine to proclaim the principles of the architectural construction of the book as an integral art product…
Narbut adored Ukrainian folk art, enthusiastically studied ancient folk engravings, and loved to paint ancient architecture. Baroque and classical architectural elements of cathedrals, churches, and palaces, typical for Ukraine, play an essential role in his illustrations…
Narbut absorbed a lot of old art, old books, re-modernized this heritage in his own way and created a new, modern language based on this art.
Reproducing his style on this basis, Narbut encouraged his best followers to develop a national style of all Ukrainian book graphics.
The extraordinary, bright Narbut was a magnet of artistic Kyiv of the early twentieth century. With his devotion to art, he attracted talented and creative people. And this was and still remains Narbut’s force.
Heorhiy Narbut by Olena Nagorna, Folio, 2020