(17 Jan 1884 – 11 Aug 1960)

sculptor and educator;
one of the founders of the Ukrainian higher art school.
Professor of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts (1919)
and Kyiv Art Institute (1925).
Director of Kharkiv Art Technical School from 1922 till 1925.

Bernard (Aron-ber Shimon) M. Kratko was born on 17th January, 1884 to a poor Jewish family and was 7th child of 10. At the age of 12 he became an apprentice at a lithographic workshop. At the same time he attended night classes at School of Drawing under Art-and-Industrial museum.

From 1901 till 1906 he studied at Warsaw higher school of Fine Art at Sculpture Faculty (professor K. Dunikovsky was his maitre). For his Diploma composition Bernard Kratko was awarded a foreign trip. From 1906 till 1908 he travelled around Germany, Italy, Egypt, and Palestine. In 1909 he continued his studying in Berlin where he met a great artist M. Liberman, one of the central representatives of impressionism in Germany. On his return to Warsaw in 1910 he fulfilled orders for a publishing house and made portrait busts. Krakto also participated in various exhibitions. He executed a series of artwork for a Jewish writer I. Perets and worked as a sculptor at the art industry factory. In 1913 a decorative sculptor-fountain Four seasons was created by B. Kratko.

In 1916 when a war burst out under Warsaw he moved to Petrograd and worked there at the ornamental casting factory. He became a member of Petrograd Council of Workers’ Deputies in 1917. Three years later he moved to Kyiv where he worked as a professor at the Ukrainian Academy of Arts. One of the first monuments to T.H. Shevchenko was created by B. Kratko at that time.

In April, 1920 when Polish White Guard Army conducted their attack to Kyiv, the sculptor moved to Kharkiv where he became a member of All-Union Communist Bolshevist Party. In Kharkiv he took part in a state project of the monumental awareness campaign. In 1921 he headed free state art workshops called Art industry factory (8, Kaplunivska street).

In 1922 B. Kratko was appointed Director of Kharkiv Art Technical School. He continued his creative activity and executed portrait busts of T.H. Shevchenko and a great Ukrainian philosopher H. Skovoroda.

In 1925 he returned to Kyiv and continued his working at Kyiv Art Institute where he was the Head of Sculpture workshop.

In 1927 Kratko and his wife Josephina Dindo, a sculptor as well, became members of the Association of Revolutionary Art of Ukraine.

In 1928 B. Kratko and his wife participated in the project headed by M. Boichuk which was about decorating Countrymen Health resort near Odessa. In 1933 they were engaged in decorating Chervonozavodsk theatre in Kharkiv as well.

On 7 December 1937 NKVD accused B. Kratko and J. Dindo of connections with public enemy M. Boichuk and arrested them. Dindo was sentenced to 10 years of labour at correctional colony (she was rehabilitated in 1988), Kratko was sentenced to “exile for an indefinite term” to Central Asia. In Turkmenistan local authorities barred the sculptor from pursuing art and made him work as a plasterer at a construction. Later he organized a studio of drawing and painting for young workers and began producing small sculpture forms.

In 1945 he returned to Kyiv. Three years later, in 1948, he moved to work in Stalino (Donetsk).

In 1953 Kyiv welcomed him again; the sculptor worked there in workshops of Kyiv Art Institute.

On August 11 , 1960 B. Kratko died at the age of 76. He was buried at Lukyanivske cemetery in Kyiv (section 25, row 1, place 26).

Some of the best works by M. Kratko are: Smile (1913), composition Refugees (1916), bust of T. Shevchenko (1920), bust of K. Marks (1920), bust of H. Skovoroda (1923), Red Army man (1924), Head of a working woman (1929). Also they are portraits of M. Zankovetska (1928), P. Volodykin (1934), artists M. Boichuk (1934) and F. Krychevsky (1935), violinist P. Stolyarevsky (1936), composition Miners (1946). Bernard Kratko is an author of monuments to M. Shchors in Zhitomir (his co-authors were P. Ulianov and M. Hetman (1931-1932)), Ya. Sverdlov in Yenakievo, Donetsk region (1951), Lenin at the mine after Chelyuskintsy in Donbass (1953), and some others. He is also an author of high reliefs and bas-reliefs for Palace of Culture in Shcherbynivka (1932-1935), decorative portal for Countrymen Health resort in Odessa (his co-author was J. Dindo), memorial plate with bas-reliefs of executed Decembrists (14, Hrushevsky st., Kyiv). Unfortunately, most of the artworks by Bernard Kratko are lost, however, one can see some of them at the National Art Museum of Ukraine (Kyiv).