Word and Image: Visual Experiments of Soviet Nonconformist Artists, 1960s-80s

Aleksei Sundukov, Penetrating Radioactivity, 1987
Oct 14, 2006 - Mar 25, 2007
DuBrow Gallery

Inspired by the innovations of the Russian avant-garde, Soviet nonconformist artists took a step further by abandoning conventions that kept word and image in separate categories. This can be seen as an example in the continuation of the strong connection between visual artists and poets particularly in Moscow. Many conceptual artists worked in literary forms while poet-conceptualists appropriated forms typical of visual arts, such as book-objects or card-poems. Nonconformist artists, trained as book designers and illustrators, created word/image art in the form of hand-produced books and journals. More generally, artists explored the relation between form and meaning in the production of texts as images, and texts in relation to images. In some cases, as in the works of Ilya Kabakov and Victor Pivovarov, words and images are of equal visual impact and importance; in others, as in the work of Leonid Lamm and Rimma Gerlovina, the text itself constitutes the entire image.


Aleksei Sundukov

Penetrating Radioactivity, 1987

Oil on canvas

Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers

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