Ilya and Emilia Kabakov curate El Lissitzky exhibition

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov curate El Lissitzky exhibition
El Lissitzky, Interior Project for the F-Type Residential Cell of a Commune House (1927). Photograph: Collection State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

9 August 2013

Artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov will curate an exhibition this autumn featuring their own work alongside that of El Lissitzky, a master of Russian avant-garde art. The exhibition, Utopia and Reality, at the Multimedia Art Museum Moscow, will examine the ideological differences between the work of El Lissitzky, who died in 1941, and the Kabakovs.

El Lissitzky strongly believed that an artist could be an agent for good and, as a result, his work was closely associated with the early Soviet utopian project. Along with artist Kazimir Malevich, he designed propaganda posters for the Soviet Union, including most famously Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge.

By contrast, US-based artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov lived in the late Soviet era, at a time when the utopian project had failed. Looking more broadly, the exhibition considers the ongoing need for human civilisation to design utopias.

The exhibition, which runs from 17 September to 17 November, is also timed to celebrate Ilya Kabakov’s 80th birthday. It was prepared in collaboration with the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and the Van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands, which holds the largest collection of artworks by El Lissitzky outside of Russia.