Ben Uri is honoured to launch the world tour of this seminal monumental installation of Yalta 1945 from 1986-87, previously exhibited at documenta 8 in 1987 and at Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York in 1990, and not presented in public since, until now.
Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid both graduated from the Stroganov Institute of Arts and Design in Moscow in 1967 when they first exhibited together at Moscow’s Blue Bird Café. They are amongst the Soviet Union’s most important non-conformist artists: founding ‘Sots Art’ which merged Socialist Realism, politicized Pop, and Conceptual art. In their multi-stylistic works of ‘conceptual eclecticism’, begun in 1972 and developed in Yalta 1945, they have become inventors of early post-modernism. In 1974 they were expelled from the youth section of the Soviet Artists Union. In the same year they participated in the unofficial exhibition ‘The Bulldozer Show’ in the suburbs of Moscow to great controversy and their double self-portraits as Lenin and Stalin were ruined by order of the State. In 1976 they had their first exhibition at the Ronald Feldman Fine Arts in New York. In 1977 they emigrated to Israel and created a work titled ‘The Third Temple’.
In 1978 they settled in New York and founded the Society of Buyers and Sellers of Human Souls working with Andy Warhol and others. In 1981-83, they created work reflecting the origins of Russian social realism from which this major sardonic and ground breaking installation emerged. Their career, together until 2003 and individually since, is synonymous with challenging establishment and traditional thinking with a cutting wit and piercing satire, in a post-Soviet and perestroika world. See komarandmelamid.org.
Watch a video by the BBC (russian service) on this exhibition here.