Moscow Conceptualists  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Moscow Conceptualist, or Russian Conceptualist, movement began with the Sots art of Komar and Melamid in the early 1970s, and continued as a trend in Russian art into the 1980s. It attempted to subvert socialist ideology using the strategies of conceptual art and appropriation art.

The central figures were Dmitri Prigov, Ilya Kabakov, Viktor Pivovarov, Eric Bulatov, Andrei Monastyrsky and Komar and Melamid.

Mikhail Epstein, in After the Future: The Paradoxes of Postmodernism and Contemporary Russian Culture (1995) explains why conceptualism is particularly appropriate to the culture and history of Russia, but also how it differs from Western Conceptualism:

"In the West, conceptualism substitutes "one thing for another"--a real object for its verbal description. But in Russia the object that should be replaced is simply absent.”

Epstein (1995) quotes Ilya Kabakov:

“This contiguity, closeness, touchingness, contact with nothing, emptiness makes up, we feel, the basic peculiarity of 'Russian conceptualism'... It is like something that hangs in the air, a self-reliant thing, like a fantastic construction, connected to nothing, with its roots in nothing... So, then, we can say that our own local thinking, from the very beginning in fact, could have been called 'conceptualism'.”

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Moscow Conceptualists" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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