Vitaly Komar & Alex Melamid

Born Komar: 1943; Melamid: 1945
Hometown Komar: Moscow, Russia; Melamid: Moscow, Russia
Lives and Works Komar: New York, NY; Melamid: New York, NY
Komar: MFA, Stroganov Institute of Art and Design, Moscow, Russia, 1967
Moscow Art School, Moscow, Russia, 1960
Melamid: MFA, Stroganov Institute of Art and Design, Moscow, Russia, 1967
Moscow Art School, Moscow, Russia, 1960

Vitaly Komar (b. 1943 Moscow, USSR) is known for his collaboration with Alexander Melamid from 1973 to 2003. In 1967, he graduated from the Stroganov School of Art and Design, and began his collaboration with non-conformist artists. In 1972, Komar and Melamid established the Sos Art Movement and became pioneers of the multi-stylistic post-modernism. In response to their arrest and the destruction of their artwork, Komar and Melamid emigrated to Israel, and then to New York in 1978. They were the first Russian artists invited to Documenta 8 in Kassel (1987) and they were also the first Russian artists to receive a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (1982). After the Symbols of the Big Bang exhibited at the Yeshiva University Museum (New York, 2002-03), Vitaly Komar started New Symbolist works. His project Symbols of the Three -Day Weekend was exhibited at Ronald Feldman gallery, New York; Matthew Brown gallery, London; Marina Sandman Gallery, Berlin; Mina Litinsky gallery, Denver; Ben Uri Gallery - The London Jewish Museum of Art (received the International Jewish Artist of the Year Award); Humanities gallery at Cooper Union, New York (with catalogue by Dore Ashton and Andrew Weinstein) in 2005. In 2007, he was a Special Guest of the Moscow Biennale (Marat Guelman gallery and Tretiakov State Gallery). Komar lives and works in New York.


Alex Melamid (b. 1945, Moscow) is formerly part of the famous Russian duo 'Komar and Melamid’ that lasted for 36 years, from 1967 until 2003. Alex Melamid studied at the Moscow Art School from 1958 - 1960 and in 1967 obtained an MFA from Moscow’s Stroganov Institute of Art and Design. In 1972 Alex Melamid founded Sots Art movement, a unique version of Soviet Pop and Conceptual Art. In 1977 Komar & Melamid emigrated to Israel and a year later, in 1978 they both moved to New York. Komar and Melamid became internationally known having shown at Biennales and Documenta, Kassel. Their “People's Choice” series, 1994–1997, consisted of the "most wanted" and "most unwanted" paintings of 11 countries, as well as two songs in the same vein. The artists commissioned polling companies in the 11 countries—including the United States, Russia, China, France, and Kenya—to conduct scientific polls to discover what they want to see in art. The use of polls was meant to mimic the American democratic process. Komar said, "Our interpretation of polls is our collaboration with various people of the world. It is a collaboration with [sic] new dictator—Majority." Their works were acquired by major museums and public collections. From 2003, upon breaking up with his counterpart, Melamid has painted a series of meticulously realistic, large size portraits of rappers, clergymen, Russian oligarchs, and New York Rabbis. The artist explains that his new series, which will have about 100 portraits when completed, is inspired by his childhood dream of “unlimited” painting. Recently Melamid has started a series of conceptual works called Neo-Senilism. In 2008 the artist declared that he is God. Melamid lives and works in New York and recently he had a solo exhibition at (Art) Amalgamated, Chelsea, NY.

Courtesy of White Box.

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