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  • Provenance


    Sammlung Bierfreund Collection, Germany; Private Collection, USA

  • Exhibited


    New York, Nakhamkin Fine Arts, Transit: Russian Artists Between the East and West, 1990; Groningen, The Netherlands, Groninger Museum, Ex USSR, 1992; Moscow, Lenin Museum, Sots Art, 1992

  • Literature


    E. Andreeva, SOTS ART: Soviet Artists of the 1970s and 1980s, Sydney/Amsterdam, 1995, p. 67 (illustrated); H. P. Riese, The Red House, Cologne, 2000, p. 147 (illustrated); A. Kosolapov, SOTS ART, Bielefeld/Leipzig, 2009, pp. 148–51 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present lot, Russian Revolutionary Porcelain, is a forceful conceptual installation by the acclaimed Russian avant-garde artist Alexander Kosolapov. Comprised of nine painted urinals, it immediately provokes a myriad of associations: Kasimir Malevich meets Marcel Duchamp in this fusion of two emblematic works by the forerunners of modern art. Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 Fountain is arguably the most influential work of art of the 20th century. However this honour could certainly be rivalled by Malevich’s Suprematist Compositions, pioneering geometric works which are recognized as founding bodies within one of the most important movements in the modern canon, abstraction. As a major representative of the Sots Art movement, which he co-founded in 1973, Alexander Kosolapov’s oeuvre features satirical treatments of Soviet symbols, Socialist Realist art, Communist Party slogans, and the ideologies of Soviet-style mass production. Having emigrated from the USSR to the city of New York in 1975, Kosolapov is also well versed in the American artistic traditions of Pop, Appropriation and Conceptual art. The present lot neatly combines the artist’s dual backgrounds, producing a postmodernist interpretation of the philosophical ideal of freedom represented by Malevich and Duchamp. But, by employing elements of parody and irony, Kosolapov frees these giants of modern art from their traditional associations while creating his own installation laden with multiple layers of symbolic meaning. In Russian Revolutionary Porcelain, Kosolapov creates a convergence between polarized subjects, the East and the West: not an easy fusion to digest, and yet one that forces the viewer to meditate upon this uncomfortable union. In the words of the artist, the installation addresses ‘a double system: the heroic and the lyrical; the political and the vulgar; the revolutionary and the bourgeois; the collective and the personal, which confront each other in the aesthetic realm. I was particularly interested in the construction of such binary structures, and it was my trademark.’
    “For me, Sots Art began in Moscow sometime around 1973. At first, it was the manifestation of an interest in a topic. The topic which was foundational for art both in Europe and Russia, which captivated people throughout the 20th century – the problem of social and cultural overhaul and change. What came of it all is another matter altogether. We are the children of that culture which, having experienced temptation by revolution, the collapse of all of its illusions, and social upheavals, was reborn into a post-modern culture, partly iconoclastic, partly cynical and pragmatically market-driven. But beside this broad theme, there is also the specific material. For a Russian artist, this material can be something of his own, something that lies at the source of his culture. For me, this material is the Russian avant-garde, Mayakovsky, and Stalin-era art, which combined Renaissance and avant-garde aesthetics with the policing technologies of a totalitarian state – a historically unprecedented alloy” (Alexander Kosolapov).

25

Russian Revolutionary Porcelain

1989-90
Nine parts: Enamel paint on glazed porcelain.
Each: 46.5 x 32 x 35.5 cm (18 1/4 x 12 5/8 x 14 in).


Each signed and dated ‘KOSOLAPOV 89’ on the reverse and, in addition one signed and dated ‘KOSOLAPOV 89-90’ on the reverse.

Estimate
£120,000 - 180,000 ‡ ♠

BRIC Theme Sale

23-24 April 2010
London