Ilya Kabakov

Biography of Ilya Kabakov

Of the many artists to emerge out of the ashes of the Soviet Union, Ilya Kabakov (alongside his collaborator and wife, Emilia) are by far the most honored and respected. His labyrinthine installations have a choreographed stage-like quality, incorporating sound and engaging the viewer in elaborate interactive spaces.


The career of Ilya Kabakov, born in the Ukraine in 1933, can be divided into two distinct disciplines. In the Soviet Union Kabakov was a popular state-sanctioned children's illustrator working in Moscow. During this time Kabakov was also hard at work developing his own practice. Although he enjoyed great financial benefits in his position, he left the Soviet Union in 1987 to take up residence in Graz, Austria. The tension between his profession and his own work that strayed from the official line has remained with him throughout his career.


Kabakov's work often dissects the psychological image of Soviet daily life, and uses it to tackle deeper questions about the human condition. His installations are often bittersweet dissections of human struggle, balancing curtailed aspiration with the self-delusion of the individual. He has released many multiples and editions throughout his career, always to great success. Kabakov has exhibited around the world and now lives in New York. His work can be located in most major collections including the Guggenheim and MoMA in New York.

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