NJ: New Brunswick

Glasses For Every Soviet Person, wood, oil, iron, 35,6 х 99,1 х 99, 1, 1976.

Glasses For Every Soviet Person, wood, oil, iron, 35,6 х 99,1 х 99, 1, 1976.

WHERE: Zimmerli Art Museum.

WHEN: On view through July 14, 2013 in the Voorhees Gallery.

TITLE: Leonid Sokov: Ironic Objects

ABOUT: An exhibition of nearly 50 works, this is the first major show in the United States by Leonid Sokov, one of the most significant Soviet nonconformist artists, who deviated from the officially prescribed patriotic style of Socialist Realism, creating their “unofficial art” following Stalin’s death in 1953 until Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika in the late 1980s.

Irritator, 1974 by Leonid Sokov,  wood, iron, and oil paint with mechanism to move tongue.

Irritator, 1974 by Leonid Sokov, wood, iron, and oil paint with mechanism to move tongue.

     Sokov is associated with Sots Art, one of the most influential developments within Soviet nonconformist culture and prominent during the 1970s and 1980s. Sots artists mocked the regime’s efforts to control all forms of creative expression by distorting and defacing recognizable elements of Soviet propaganda in their work.

     While some artists examined societal attitudes and the hollow authority of Soviet power, Sokov addressed the monotony and deprivations of daily life. He applied strategies developed in Sots Art to a broader cultural context, juxtaposing traditional images of Russian culture with popular cultural myths of both communist Russia and capitalist America. Sokov’s multi-layered visual and verbal puns provide the viewer with a deeper insight into contemporary culture, politics, and life in general.

MORE DETAILS: www.zimmerlimuseum.rutgers.edu

About

Born in 1941, artist Leonid Sokov has lived and worked in New York since 1980. He is seen as one of the most brilliant representatives of Sots Art, where he uses Soviet symbols in combination with the traditions of popular folklore, creating objects coarsely carved out of wood or wrought from metal, which look similar to wooden toys. The work is often cracked or chipped, the wooden pieces fit together poorly and are painted coarsely, giving it the rough image of a handmade item.

Stalin and Marilyn, canvas, oil, 86 x 99 in., 2007.

Stalin and Marilyn, canvas, oil, 86 x 99 in., 2007.

     Sokov often uses combinations of popular myths and forms from the East and West, like portraits of Stalin with Marilyn Monroe, the image of the hammer and sickle turning into a dollar sign, or a “Marching” Giacometti across from a bronze Lenin, in his work. This ironic view allows Sokov not only to lower the levels of aggression in the usual collection of Soviet symbols, but also to try and find their similarities with their antitheses: the symbols of western pop-art.

     Sokov’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums internationally as well as and among others, including his work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim Museum, Centre Georges Pompidou and Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow).

 Founded in 1966 as the Rutgers University Art Gallery, the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum was established in 1983 in response to the growth of the permanent collection. The major benefactors for the construction of the museum were Ralph and Alan Voorhees, and the Zimmerli was named for their mother.

     As one of the largest and most distinguished university-based museums in the United States of America, the museum is headquartered in a 70,000-square-foot facility and has a collection of 60,000 objects ranging from ancient to contemporary art and featuring particularly rich holdings in the areas of French art of the nineteenth century, Russian and Soviet Nonconformist Art, and American and European works on paper, including prints, drawings, photographs, and rare books. 




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