Artists of the week: "Character Komar & Melamid". 1972-2003
ARTinvestment.RU   29 марта 2019

Met in the morgue for the students of the art school was destined to become the inventors of Sots-арта, organizers of the "bulldozer exhibition," American merchants and the souls of the most recognizable representatives of the independent Soviet art in the world

the First retrospective of the famous collaborators, Komar & Melamid, is limited to the period from 1972 to 2003. That is, since the official invention of Sots-арта as words and direction until the actual termination of the joint work. 18 years after the beginning of "perestroika" and 12 years after the collapse of the USSR Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid went our separate ways. What exactly happened between them, they're not saying. So, evasively — say, everyone got the chance to live another life. But what-то happened difficult. Even to former co-authors come together to the opening, it took a difficult negotiation.

If you open the directory "Other art", we can see that the first collaboration was made by Komar and Melamid delivered not in 1972-м, but much earlier — in 1965. It was a composition with Russian medals (white square with photos of Russian medals, drawings and diagrams). Two years later they hosted the first exhibition of "Retrospectivism" in the cafe "Blue bird", rare at that time to show experimental art and discussions, with a reputation almost of a hotbed of dissent. In 1968, under encouraged, but controlled dialogue "physicists" and "lyricists" Komar and Melamid were allowed to hold a joint exhibition in Academgorodok Moscow, Pushchino. But the official beginning of a constant collaboration made why-то to believe it was 1972-й — year of the invention of the term "social-арт". Then touched the words "kom-арт", "Sov-арт" — were-то clear, in unison with bourgeois pop-арту. And who would have imagined that just six years held a "social-артисты" will fooling around in new-Йорке with Andy Warhol and Troll zonked Americans buying shower for resale in the USSR.

But before that a lot still had to happen and successfully match.

the directory "Other art" the first artists in the status of the new "social-артистов" steel pictures of wives in poster manner. Exhibition in the MMSI do reveal "a Portrait of his wife Katya with a Hoop" 1972 brushes Melamid and "portrait of the wife of Vitaly Komar and child". Maybe that's what they are. The portraits bear the stamp of the oxymoron "intimate — officially". However, I feel that the portraits of the wives — is not exactly those things that made you say about these artists. Breakthrough for Komar and Melamid was probably the apartment exhibition "Paradise" in 1973. There is intimacy topics were also purposely designed means ridiculous Soviet monumentality. At the exhibition clearly manifested their signature political antistatism, emerged as the reception contraterrorismo "bad art". Neither Komar or Melamid was not yet thirty. But they were already under a blatant pseudonym "Famous artists early 70 years of the twentieth century. Moscow". In 1974, at the apartment Melamid withsymbolic address on Dmitry Ulianov street artists staged a "spectacular performance" — showed filmstrips with Stalin, Socrates, Einstein, monkey. The outcomes of this event, the directory says briefly: "the protesters dispersed by the police and the KGB." Later sounded the execution is shifted to the music "text on the passport." But the most resonant event in the history of unofficial art with their participation took place in the fall, 15 September 1974. Evidence of who was the main leader and ideologist of the "first autumn viewing pictures outdoors" at the intersection of Profsoyuznaya and Ostrovityanova different. How different and version, what the hell Brezhnev government turned the pre-announced and not officially forbidden action of Moscow artists in "bulldozer" massacre. Vladimir Nemukhin insisted that the exhibition in Belyaevo invented by Oskar Rabin, Komar and Melamid delivered there just invited. But another member of the "bulldozers" the artist Valentin Vorobiev equally confidently wrote in "Enemy of the people" that the main instigators were young Komar and Melamid. Right can be both, because different groups had different authorities. Besides all occurred under conditions of strong internal competition, if not confrontation among different groups of unofficial artists. An indirect confirmation of their conflict can be considered conflict with the selection of items for exhibition in the pavilion "beekeeping", which was held at ENEA in six months, February 19-22, 1975. There were exposed Rabin, Nemukhin, Krasnopevtsev, Tselkov, Plavinsky, Yakovlev. Was supposed to be and taverns, which at the last moment refused and was immediately replaced by Ulicom. Only 20 artists. But the work of Komar and Melamid, it was not accepted. Collector and historian of nonconformity Leonid Talochkin tactfully pointed out that the work of "Color — great power" was "slightly higher understanding of the exhibition Committee, consisting of the participants of the exhibition." It would seem, still yesterday all together beat and selected paintings (the canvas "Double portrait" in the image of Lenin and Stalin were taken away and thrown in the back of combatants in civilian clothes). A few months later on the most important allowed the exhibition both did not let their brothers-in-arms.

But "overseas regional Committee" said "very good", and in February 1976 exhibition "the Color of — great power" showed let not in Moscow, at ENEA, but what-никаком new-Йорке, in the gallery of Ron Feldman. Given that the authors at that time were in the Soviet Union and the exhibition was held in the United States, it looked like burning bridges. However to lose-то particularly already and nothing. And so it was clear that after a series of art-демаршей in the Soviet Union they do not give life. And about the exhibition it is possible to forget for a long time, if not forever. And Komar with Melamid delivered has gone viral. In 1976, the texts of their work almost completely switched to English. Is not afraid to scroll, the official organ of the Central Committee of the CPSU newspaper Pravda in the grinder to play the ideological ground "Presnya" meatballs. Sitting on suitcases artists are already hard to prevent release of the passport invented country Transstate, and at the same time to print "treshki" and "five" of its cross-border currency. They passed strict warning text from the passport of the USSR to the music, satisfied with her performance not only in Moscow,but in the other cities of the world, poking the bear, came up with new jokes, strongly played the fool, to behave as free men. In 1978-м artists finally-то emigrated to Israel and soon moved to the United States.

In America, the boor of the art school has not lost the old spirit and quickly set to work. 19 may 1979 in new-Йорке they launched the enterprise for the purchase of shower for resale in Moscow. One of the first contract of sale made sympathetic Komar and Melamid, the king of pop-арта Andy Warhol. Conditional lover soul soup Campbell purchased for a nominal zero dollars, and later was resold some-то shoppers in Moscow. After that, it was still a lot of things. And training photo chimpanzee Mickey, and co-authorship with the elephants in the painting. And, of course, numerous exhibitions of unofficial Soviet art, personal computers in the Western galleries (including Ron Feldman, where it all began). After the use of the symbols of Soviet ideology and preparation of social realism, Komar and Melamid quite ruthlessly took over the American characters and not particularly sincere capitalist slogans. With "cap-артом" they also sometimes went to the point, snappy, and even prophetic. For example, their "American flag of the future" where 50 stars States expanded to the billions of stars in the milky way, —, this work is clearly ahead of her time. In 1980-е Komar and Melamid several times been able to ride the high wave. But the most famous project of the American post-Soviet period, perhaps, and remained "buying souls." It is striking that today this performance looks even more daring than 40 years ago. I'm not even sure that it would be safe to repeat in our day. Authors and participants got to be stronger than in the days of global confrontation.

However, if you return to the retrospective, the most in the exhibition I remember no red cards contracts for the purchase shower, and one of the latest projects of Komar and Melamid, made in collaboration. This is a "text icon", conceived by them in 1970-е, but realized only at the end of the cooperation, in 2003. The idea was born in the USSR of the real amazing stories found in the archives. In 1713, during the reign of Peter I in Moscow, in "Secret orders" were interrogating the arrested student doctor of the German settlement, a man called Dmitri Tveritinova. His fault was that he wrote an icon, which is image only text only: "do Not make yourself an idol." A bold freethinker and heretic three hundred years ago created, in fact, conceptual object. Yes, and wasn't afraid to defend his ideas in theological disputes with the influential princes and senators than condemned itself to certain death. Just what-то miracle rumors about the difficult case came to Peter, and suddenly the king had abolished the death penalty. Tveritinova punished, sent to the fortress, but were later released, and a few years later he was forgiven. His fate is unknown. But the moral heroism of the rebel group Tveritinova, experience selflessly defend their views, 300 years later mysteriously influenced the Outlook of Komar and Melamid, gave them strength. The text icon of the forerunner of avant-garde artists and dissidents were destroyed. To restore fully accurate the external appearance of the chances are notwas. Creative reconstruction only, but with all due respect, scientific approach and taking into account the opinion of the restorers of the Centre behalf Grabar. Such is the beautiful story and a beautiful farewell project.

Now a little about the market.

Not that much unexpected, but pleasant discovery after visiting the exhibition in the MMSI was that almost all of the most expensive and simply the best works by Komar and Melamid that when-либо exhibited at Western auctions, was bought by Russian collectors. They returned to Russia and almost everything is exposed now at Petrovka, 25.

In particular, the most expensive painting, "Meeting Solzhenitsyn and G. Boll in the country of M. Rostropovich" (1972), bought at auction for $1 010 200 in 2010 — is a thing from the collection of Shalva Breus. "The judgment of Paris, or the Yalta conference" price of $380 000 was received to the exhibition of the New Museum the deceased Aslan chehova. "Karl Marx and cornucopia" (1982) taken in the exhibition from the collection of many years working in Russia, Italian businessman Antonio Piccoli. The "blue Cup" and "Girl before a mirror" also bought Russian collectors. The exhibition features spectacular large canvases from the collection of Stella Art Foundation (Stella Kesaeva), from the collection of the V-А-С (family of Leonid Mikhelson), things start 1970-х, from the collection of Catherine and Vladimir Semenikhin, as well as works from other private collections and Museum collections (Russian Museum, MMSI, Centre Georges Pompidou etc.).

Hundreds of thousands of dollars and a million — is of course alreadyspace money. Worth at the peak of the oil with the main subjects, and even in the most expensive seats on the main world auctions. Was options much more accessible. For example, large multi-part oil 1980-х years at international auctions are in the range of $25 000-50 000. Original collages with recognizable themes (not the drawing) at the Moscow auctions it is possible to catch around 50 000. Lethal lottery thing ("Future American flag" or "Judith and Stalin") are sold, sometimes even more expensive, in the range of 70 000-100 000. But the fun of a good subscription tiriki can get even more. Remember the silkscreen "Judith and Stalin" on our Auction AI: a powerful thing, still stands before my eyes. And cost a little more than 70 000.

That was then, after 2003, after the termination of the collaboration? Both continued to paint. Vitaly Komar began to develop a philosophical direction. Four years ago, he started to make a picturesque series of "Allegory of justice", about the search for balance, a struggle between good and evil, the confrontation between the West and the East. About the old "SOC-арте" it resembles a deliberate eclecticism and a game with symbols (Yin-янь, scales, Ouroboros, etc.). Alexander Melamid also did not abandon painting. Set to large, full-length portraits of famous people — religious leaders, figures show-бизнеса. Ten years ago he did an exhibition "Holy hip-хоп" at the Museum of contemporary art Detroit. There he was shown his life-size portrait of rappers Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Kanye West and others. In 2011 came the news that Melamid opened an innovative "the Clinic for treatment of an art". This is a real clinic in new-Йорке, in SOHO, with offices and its own pharmacy. Physical illness and mental disorders it was treated with conversations about painting. Well, if the conversation does not help, in the course of walking insoles with van Gogh self-portraits, receptacles for charging water with the vibes of paintings by Raphael, Botticelli and Liechtenstein printed on the inner surface of the glass, as well as prayer cards Picasso as the patron of motorists or Georges Seurat as patron in the rejuvenation of the skin. In short, all is well. Do not grow old soul veterans.

Retrospective Komar & Melamid will run in Moscow Museum of modern art at Petrovka, 25, until 9 June 2019. Produced for the exhibition monograph art historian Kirill Svetliakov — special on the art of the newest trends in the Tretyakov gallery. The book is already on sale in the shop at the Museum and costs about 1000 rubles.


What else to read on the topic on AI:
the Artists of the week. Komar and Melamid;
for the First time: the paintings of Vitaly Komar at auction ARTinvestment.RU.

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