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The Fly Ilya Kabakov


Ilya Kabakov Dnepropetrovsk, 1933 –

Culture Russian
Date 1982
Object type drawing
Medium, technique ink, coloured pencil on paper

633 × 440 mm

Inventory number K.89.1
Collection Prints and Drawings
On view This artwork is not on display

Ilya Kabakov is one of the defining underground artists of the period of Eastern European dictatorships. At their first open-air exhibition in Moscow in 1974, bulldozers crushed the works of the world-famous environment and installation artist. Kabakov and his friends in the 70s and 80s were not allowed to have an official exhibition in the Russian capital. However, in 1982-83, as part of an unusual artistic campaign, Kabakov organized a fictive exhibition entitled “Fly with Wings” in the virtual halls of the Pushkin Museum.
Kabakov’s Budapest series of drawings “The Fly” consists of a central drawing of a house fly and sixty textual panels. On the panels the artist has written sentences in India ink. In a rough-and-ready form he also drew up the plan for laying out all the sheets. The resulting installation model is partly a narrative work (since reading the texts the viewer becomes a part of several stories), and partly a concept work rich in association. The graphic elements are drastically simplified, and the central drawing and the sentences are full of artistic and philosophical references. Interestingly, the interpretation of the work has altered over the decades.
There was a form of freedom which the artists of Eastern Europe could enjoy: they could stand outside the world they lived in. This is what Kabakov’s work represents.

Judit Geskó

This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.

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