Thinking pictures: Moscow conceptualist art in New Jersey

3 November 2016

An exhibition of pivotal works of Moscow Conceptualism has gone on show at Zimmerli Art Museum, located at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Thinking Pictures features the work of nearly 50 artists whose work was fundamental in the development of conceptual art in Moscow in the 1970s and 80s, examining the particular social, political, and artistic conditions that inspired these artists and distinguished them from their western counterparts. In particular, Muscovite artists worked under consistent threat of censorship and often in opposition to state-mandated Socialist Realism. Their works frequently resisted classification, combining media such as painting and installation, image and text to create new conceptual art practices.

Among the featured installations are Viktor Pivovarov’s Projects for a Lonely Man (1975), the first US presentation of Ilya Kabakov’s The Great Axis (1984) and materials from Irina Nakhova’s Rooms (1984-1985).

These installations are complemented by paintings, sculpture, photographs, works on paper, and mixed-media works by a rich array of artists, including Yuri Albert, Nikita Alekseev, Eric Bulatov, Ivan Chuikov, Elena Elagina, Igor Makarevich, Oleg Vassiliev, and Vadim Zakharov.

“The artists featured in the exhibition greatly expanded and enhanced the scope of visual practices — blurring the lines between media. [...] Yet, their work is largely missing from the global dialogue on the development of conceptual art in the 1970s and 1980s,” says exhibition organiser and curator Dr Jane Sharp, highlighting the importance of Thinking Pictures in bringing as yet little known but crucial work to the fore.

Thinking Pictures will run at the Zimmerli Art Museum until 31 December 2016. More information can be found on the museum’s official site.