Vagrich Bakhchanyan: Accidental Absurdity

Oct 17, 2015 - Mar 06, 2016
Dodge Wing Lower Level

Vagrich Bakhchanyan (1938-2009), a Russian writer and conceptual artist, possessed a keen sensitivity to the absurdities of the Soviet regime. He was born to an Armenian family in Kharkov in Soviet Ukraine. In the mid-1960s, he moved to Moscow, where he worked as a newspaper caricaturist. In 1974, Bakhchanyan immigrated to United States, settling in New York.

Through collages, artist’s books, and other mixed media objects—which the artist minimally altered from their everyday appearance—he revealed the fine line that can separate normality from madness, banality from absurdity, platitude from blasphemy. Through experimentation and the development of inventive artistic strategies, Bakhchanyan broadened the range of expressive possibilities for other nonconformist artists. Many of his puns became an intrinsic part of Soviet dissident culture.

The 60 works on view in the exhibition are drawn from the Zimmerli’s Nancy and Norton Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union.

The exhibition is made possible by the Avenir Foundation Endowment Fund

Organized by Julia Tulovsky, Associate Curator of Russian and Nonconformist Art

Related Program
Reception / Thursday, November 12, 4:30 to 8:30pm

Join us in celebrating the exhibition Vagrich Bakhchanyan: Accidental Absurdity, including a curator-led tour, roundtable discussion and film screening, followed by a reception.  

Vagrich Bakhchanyan (1938-2009)

Untitled, 1973-74

Transfer process on graph paper

16 x 11 5/16 in. (40.7 x 28.7 cm)

Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union