Ilya Kabakov: The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away

Amei Wallach, Author, Robert Storr, Introduction by ABRAMS $65 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8109-3525-9
Kabakov, who left the Soviet Union in 1988 and now lives in New York City, is well known in the West as a Russian conceptual artist, but he has yet to have an exhibit in Moscow, according to this lavishly illustrated monograph. Born in 1933 in Ukraine amid forced starvation and collectivization, his sense of being an outsider reinforced by his Jewishness, Kabakov freewheelingly deconstructs the lies, absurdities, betrayals, psychological deprivations, linguistic dislocations and self-deceptions of day-to-day Soviet unreality. His installations The Toilet (1992), portraying communal life in an outhouse, and My Homeland (The Flies) (1991), an airborne, hierarchical realm populated with insects, give the lie to the Soviet heaven-on-earth. Paintings, drawings, albums with movable pages and paperwork collages that mock official posters and instructions transcend their immediate Soviet context, forming a quirky art full of spiritual yearning, obsessed characters, mazes, flying boys, fear and loathing of bureaucracy. Wallach is arts commentator for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
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