Ilya and Emilia Kabakov
The couple is active since1989 in New York, USA
Ilya and Emilia Kabakov are amongst the most celebrated artists of their generation, widely known as pioneers of installation art. Ilya Kabakov was born in 1933 in Dnepropetrovsk (now Dnipro) in Ukraine formerly part of the Soviet Union. When he was eight, he moved to Moscow with his mother. He studied at the Art School of Moscow, and at the VA Surikov Art Institute. Artists in the Soviet Union were obliged to follow the officially approved style, Socialist Realism. Wanting to retain his independence, Ilya supported himself as a children’s book illustrator from 1955 to 1987, while continuing to make his own paintings and drawings. As an ‘unofficial artist’, he worked in private. Ilya was not permitted to travel outside the Soviet Union until 1987, when he was offered a fellowship at the Graz Kunstverein, Austria. The following year he visited New York and resumed contact with Emilia Lekach. Born in 1945, Emilia trained as a classical pianist at Music College in Irkutsk, and studied Spanish Language and Literature at Moscow University before emigrating to the United States in 1973. Ilya and Emilia began their artistic partnership in the late 1980s, and were married in 1992. Together, they have produced a profile output of immersive installations and other conceptual works addressing ideas of utopia, dreams and fear, to reflect on the universal human condition. Their work has been shown in such venues as the Museum of Modern Art, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Documenta IX, at the Whitney Biennial in 1997 and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg among others. In 1993 they represented Russia at the 45th Venice Biennale with their installation “The Red Pavilion”. The Kabakovs have also completed many important public commissions throughout Europe and have received a number of honors and awards, including the Oscar Kokoschka Preis, Wien, in 2002 and the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, Paris, in 1995.