Lissitzky – Kabakov exhibition goes to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg 

28.06 – 25.08.2013

The exhibition Lissitzky-Kabakov, Utopia and Reality, which was held in the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven from December 2012 to April 2013, will be on show in the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg from 28 June. The works of the artists El Lissitzky (1890-1941) and Ilya (1933) and Emilia (1945) Kabakov will be on show in a number of rooms in the Winter Palace up to 25 August.

The exhibition in Eindhoven was put together by the Kabakovs and it was the first time that their work could be seen together with that of Lissitzky. This completed the circle which started with the revolutions in the early years of the twentieth century and ended with the dramatic events in 1989. The confrontation between early Soviet art and that from the later Soviet era offered opportunities for a better understanding of the  art and culture of the intervening period. In the exhibition in the Van Abbemuseum the works of Lissitzky and the Kabakovs were contrasted with each other every time in accordance with a particular theme.

In St. Petersburg seven of the original eight themes are focused on. Just as in Eindhoven, loaned works can be seen from, amongst other places, the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Pompidou Centre in Paris and a number of private collections. A small number of loans were replaced by works from Russian collections. After St. Petersburg the exhibition will travel on to the Multimedia Art Museum (MAMM) in Moscow in September 2013.

Like the exhibition in Eindhoven, the exhibitions in St. Petersburg and Moscow will take place in the context of the 2013 Netherlands-Russia year (NLRF2013).

Both the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow expressed an interest in the concept at an early stage during the preparations for the Lissitzky-Kabakov exhibition in Eindhoven. Next to negotiations regarding the practical organisation of a Russian tour, there was also an important discussion on the presentation and reception of such a Lissitzky-Kabakov exhibition in the homeland of these artists/ Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director of the Hermitage, wrote in the accompanying catalogue: “The idea of a putting works of Lissitzky and the Kabakovs together in an exhibition was met with instant approval which then quickly turned into some doubt at the thought of how the exhibition would make sense. However after some serious consideration it became apparent that not only would it make sense but there would be both beauty and elegance in the union.” The accompanying catalogue in Russian and English contains forewords by Mikhail Piotrovsky (the director of the Hermitage) and Charles Esche (the director of the Van Abbemuseum) and an interview with Ilya and Emilia Kabakov by Dimitri Ozerkov and Olga Sviblova. It also includes the essay “Installing Communism” from the original catalogue of the Van Abbemuseum, and the works of Lissitzky and Kabakov are again arranged thematically. Ilya Kabakov was once again responsible for the design.