Monday, January 12, 2009


This picture entitle Beetle is an enamel paint on wooden panel measuring 226.5 x 148.5 cm. (89 1/4 x 58 1/2 in) signed, titled and dated ‘I.Kabakov Beetle 1982 [in Cyrillic]’ on the stretcher.

Kabakov is a painter born in 1933 in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine who is now an American conceptual artist of Russian-origin. He worked for thirty years in Moscow, from the 1950s until the late 1980s. He now lives and works on Long Island. He was named by JewishArtNews as one of the "ten greatest living artists" in 2000.

Kabakov joined the Union of Soviet Artists in 1959, and became a full-member in 1965. This was a prestigious position in the USSR and it brought with it substantial material benefits. In general, Kabakov illustrated children's books for 3–6 months each year and then spent the remainder of his time on his own projects.

Rather than depict the Soviet Union as a failed Socialist project defeated by Western economics, Kabakov describes it as one utopian project among many, capitalism included. Kabakov remained in Russia until 1987. His first trip to the West was to Graz, Austria when the Kunstverein (Art council) gave him an artistic residency. Between 1988 and 1992 Kabakov claimed no permanent home yet stayed in the West, working and living only briefly in various countries. In comparison to many Soviet émigré artists, Kabakov was immediately successful and has remained so ever since. Between 1988 and 1989 he had exhibitions in New York, Bern, Venice, and Paris.

His Beetle was sold in February 2008 for $5.84 million in London by auction house Phillips de Pury for an estimate of 1.2-1.8 million GBP. Kabakov is now the most expensive Russian artist. At a recent retrospective of his work in Moscow, Kabakov appeared wearing a shabby jacket and an old wool hat, looking like not a new Russian but an old one. Kabakov, now 75, seens to feel uncomfortable in the New Russia.

He recently referred to the crowd of nouveaux riches Russian attending his retrospective as rozovii gnoi, or pink pus.....