MacDougall's Russian Art Auctions 8-9 June 2011

8 June 2011

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Allies, from the "Yalta Conference" series,

* 317. KOMAR and MELAMID (B. 1943 and B. 1945)

Allies, from the "Yalta Conference" series, signed, inscribed "Yalta Conference" and dated 1985-1995 on the reverse..

Hand-coloured black and white photograph on masonite, 232 by 152 cm.
60,000-90,000 GBP

The present work is a hand-coloured black and white photograph based on the oil painting now in the collection of the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna. It was made in 1995 for the Bernd Freud collection.

Provenance: Artist's Studio, New York.
The Bernd Freud collection, Germany.
Private collection, USA.

Authenticity of the wotk has been confirmed by V. Komar.

Allies further develops the subject of the Yalta Conference series, first broached by the artists in the 1980s. In this series, the heads of the anti-Hitler coalition governments are repeatedly shown in the company of supreme heroes and anti-heroes from the history of mankind, seeming to bless our "trinity" with their symbolic presence: Phidias's Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Nero, Cicero, the Minotaur and finally, in our picture, Jesus Christ.

Christ is endowed with the features of a 1970s pop-culture idol, peeping out through the classical canons of religious iconography and the red toga. With postmodern pantophagy, he opens his embrace both to the President, General Secretary and Prime Minister who are sitting on a bench with their backs to him, and to their "idols", standing behind them: the busts of the leaders of the American and Russian Revolutions, Lenin and Washington.

Komar and Melamid do not address the actual historical event itself; instead they evoke a multiplicity of political and cultural allusions simultaneously. For the artists' generation, the Yalta Conference was not only a symbol of the military alliance and the post-war redistribution of Europe (the birthplace of contemporary geopolitics), but also the apotheosis of political mythology. By giving equal weight to different cultural and artistic codes in this picture, and by deliberately mixing them up, the artists turn history into a masquerade of media images from different eras. Their aim is a two-fold deconstruction: of art and history on the one hand and of the artist's role in history on the other.

One of the most ambitious projects of Sots Art, the Yalta Conference series offers the viewer limitless ways of interpreting the history of the 20th century. In this context, Allies can rightly be considered a characteristic image of Komar and Melamid's creative irony.

Notes on symbols:
* Indicates 5% Import Duty Charge applies.
Ω Indicates 20% Import Duty Charge applies.
§ Indicates Artist's Resale Right applies.
† Indicates Standard VAT scheme applies, and the rate of 20% VAT will be charged on both hammer price and premium.