For 'Utopia and Reality' Ilya and Emilia Kabakov made an extensive selection from their own work and that of Lissitzky. It is the first time that the oeuvres of these famous 20th-century Russian artists are being presented together. Bringing together Lissitzky and the Kabakovs completes the circle which started with the revolutions in the early years of the twentieth century and finished with the upheavals of 1989.
curated by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov and Charles Esche
Project leader Willem Jan Renders
The Van Abbemuseum asked the artists Ilya (b. 1933) and Emilia (b. 1945) Kabakov to organise an exhibition of their work together with that of El Lissitzky (1890–1941), as guest curators. For the Lissitzky – Kabakov exhibition, they made an extensive selection from their own work and that of Lissitzky. It is the first time that the oeuvres of these famous 20th-century Russian artists are being presented together. Bringing together Lissitzky and the Kabakovs completes the circle which started with the revolutions in the early years of the twentieth century and finished with the upheavals of 1989. The confrontation between early Soviet art and that of the later Soviet era presents opportunities for a better understanding of the art and culture of the intervening period. In addition to works from the collection of the Kabakovs and the Van Abbemuseum, there will be loans from the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, the Guggenheim Museum in New York and Centre Pompidou in Paris, as well as from a number of private collections. Some of the Kabakovs' installations have also been recreated for this occasion.
Two sides of the Soviet coin
Lissitzky's enthusiasm for the revolution and his involvement in the new social order is present everywhere in the exhibition. In contrast, one constantly comes across the Kabakovs' melancholic but also humorous representation and interpretation of the conditions of the late Soviet era. The mother country of both the artists had become a place where the rhetoric of progress had run aground on the everyday reality of life in that society. Nevertheless, it proved possible to re-emerge from this twilight zone.
There is a detailed catalogue available in Dutch and English for the exhibition, with an in-depth article by the Kabakov expert Professors Boris Groys, an imaginary interview with Lissitzky by Professor John Milner, an expert in avant-garde Russian art, and an interview with Ilya and Emilia Kabakov by the artist Anton Vidokle. All the works in the exhibition are shown in colour, arranged in accordance with the themes in the exhibition. Finally, the book contains an illustrated image biography of the artists.
The exhibition is part of NLRF2013, the Dutch – Russian year and is scheduled to travel to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and the Multimedia Art Museum (MAMM) in Moscow in 2013.
For more information on Lissitzky – Kabakov, Utopia and Reality you can visit www.vanabbemuseum.nl
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The exhibition is made possible with the support of Ammodo, BankGiro Loterij, Mondriaan Fund, SNS REAAL Fonds, Turing Foundation and VSB Fonds.
Opening: Saturday, 1 December 2012, 3pm
Bilderdijklaan 10 Eindhoven