Judith, Melamid and Komar

08 Sep

Nope, not Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.   But I suppose it could be titled “Melamid & Komar Build a Sandcastle”?   (I know – it hurts but i had to do it.)

Komar & Melamid, “Judith,” 1988, oil on canvas, 152 by 152 cm, auctioned by Sotheby’s 11/25/2008 (Lot 679)

Komar and Melamid was/were an artistic team of Russian-born American graphic artists Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamine.  While in Russia in 1972, Komar & Melamid founded a movement they called Sots Art, a unique version of Soviet Pop and Conceptual Art that combines the principles of Dadaism and Socialist Realism.  Like I have any idea what I just said.  They were expelled from the Artists’ Union for “distortion of Soviet reality”  the next year and in 1978, they moved to New York.   A decade later, they became US citizens and created this painting.

In an artists’ statement they said that “Even if only one of us creates some of the projects and works, we usually sign them together. We are not just an artist, we are a movement.”   That is, until 2003 when the movement dissolved (1).

I hate to confess:  I am having a devil of a time finding commentary on this particular work.    I am sure the face of Holofernes is someone significant and the sandcastle on his head is meaningful – but it is lost on me.    A city built on an unstable foundation?   So anyone who is (a) knowledgeable about post-Soviet Russian imagery, (b) knowledgeable about the art of Komar and Melamid, or (c) actually knows Komar or Melamid – please leave a comment that will end the mystery.


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Posted by on September 8, 2011 in Cacciatore


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