Ben Uri collection

Yalta 1945

Artist information

Name Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid

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Although their co-authorship of artworks ceased in 2003–4, Komar and Melamid are two of the best known artists to emerge from the USSR in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as the founders in 1972 of the controversial SotsArt, a type of work which fused Russian Socialist Realism with elements of conceptual art, Western Pop Art and Dada. ‘We are not just an artist. We are a movement’ they famously declared, never precisely defining the role each played within the creation of any individual artwork. They both studied at the Moscow Art School from 1958–60 and the Stroganov Institute of Art and Design, graduating in 1967, the year in which they held their first joint exhibition. They subsequently joined the Moscow Union of Artists and took up teaching posts. However, the controversial nature of their works resulted in arrest in 1974 and both immigrated first to Israel in 1977, and then to New York, in 1978.

Object Details

Date 1986-87

Object type mixed media

Unframed 121.92 x 121.92 (each panel) cm

Acquisition On loan to Ben Uri Collection

Accession number 2017-08

Display status not on display

The artist Vitaly Komar has observed of this piece: 'Yalta 1945 is a polyptych consisting of 31 paintings. Each panel is a 48-x-48-inch square, but the mediums vary: you have oil, tempera, mixed media and assemblage. Some are on canvas, but a number are on wood. The different styles of the paintings reflect changes in mood, as well as different periods of art history, which in turn reflects the larger conceptual eclecticism of contemporary consciousness. For me, eclecticism is synonymous with pluralism and tolerance. All of us have divergent images and conceptual opposite coexisting in our minds. We believe in Darwin, and in God.'

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© Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid