Ilya Kabakov - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Monday, February 8, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, He Lost His Mind, Undressed, Ran Away Naked, January 6-February 3, 1990

  • Catalogue Essay

    Ilya Kabakov is one of the most important Russian artists of his generation as well as one of the founders of the Moscow Conceptualism art movement, developed in the USSR in the late 1960s. Kabakov began his artistic career as a children’s book illustrator practicing painting on the side. Kabakov’s work played a crucial role in the introduction of Soviet art to the Western audience through exhibiting his works internationally from the late 1980s. Blending language with images, he produced a body of work which explores the ambiguities between the public and private sphere of Soviet life. His sharp sense of humour and expressive aesthetics have made his art approachable and comprehensible to both local and worldwide audiences, producing a truly international visual language that is unequivocally his own.

    The Paintings (end of 1979 – beginning of 1980), of which the present lot is one, are among Kabakov’s most celebrated works. In this series, the artist presents an ironic view of essential aspects of the Soviet lifestyle in the form of questionnaires, advertisements, timetables and orders. Sobakin, 1980, is a two-part document: on the right, in neat and big letters, painted in black is the word: “Sobakin”. On the left, as in a chart, there is information relating to the life of a man called Peter Nikolaivich, who the artist ironically addresses as Sobakin, which means dog in Russian.

    This derogatory nickname implies that Peter Nikolaivich lived the life of a dog, which is recounted here in its stark entirety as to his lineage, education, work history and offspring. It is a summary of his life from society’s point of view: his biography is outlined, and his most important achievements are listed. The way his biography is presented, the monumentality of the painting and its bureaucratic appearance imply that this man’s life must have been rather exemplary. The biography of Sobakin conceals a sort of educational purpose, an encouragement for the audience to live such a life as well. However, Kabakov diminishes all these traits of Peter Nikolaivich with irony: nothing of this sort can be said about a dog, since it doesn’t have a history or biography, it is merely a dog.



enamel on canvas, mounted to plywood, in artist's frame, diptych
each 217.8 x 150.8 cm (85 3/4 x 59 3/8 in.)
overall 217.8 x 301.6 cm (85 3/4 x 118 3/4 in.)

Signed, titled and dated in English and Russian 'I. Kabakov "Sobakin" 1980' on the reverse of each panel.

£300,000 - 500,000 

Sold for £458,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London

+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 9 February 2016 7pm