Collezione Olgiati
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Ilya & Emilia Kabakov

The Kabakovs
and the Avant-Gardes

18.09.2016 –
08.01.2017



Spazio -1 Collezione Giancarlo e Danna Olgiati will host an exhibition dedicated to Ilya & Emilia Kabakov. For the event the pair of artists will dialogue with the historical avant-garde works in the Olgiati collection. The exhibition takes place one year before the major retrospective of the Russian artists’ work to be held at the Tate Modern in London in October 2017. 

“Ilya & Emilia Kabakov. The Kabakovs and the Avant-Gardes” continues along the path the Spazio -1 has set for itself, and comes right after the exhibition dedicated to Italian artist Giulio Paolini (September 2015) and the themed exhibition Sulla Croce (March 2016). This new project stems from a personal relationship that began to grow many years ago between the collectors Giancarlo and Danna Olgiati and the two artists, for whom three significant works were already represented in Spazio -1 in 2012. As always, this new exhibition will be accompanied by a new installation of the Collezione Olgiati including works hitherto unseen.

The exhibition relates seven works by the two great Russian artists with twenty-six paintings and drawings of the early-twentieth-century historical avant-gardes in the Collection: from Russian Cubo-Futurism to Suprematism and Constructivism, by way of Italian Futurism and Europea Abstraction, Spazio -1 offers a very special intellectual conversation. Visitors will be able to view five large-scale paintings, a sculpture, and an installation by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, alongside some of the greatest names of the historical avant-gardes, including Russian artists Malevic, Kandinsky, and Rodchenko, Italian Futurist artists Balla, Boccioni, and Severini, and European Abstract artists Léger and Schwitters.

The exhibition design conceived specially by Ilya Kabakov for Lugano is a remarkable tribute by the artist to art history, with which he dialogues relentlessly, and in particular to the Collezione Olgiati, with which he shares specific choices and comprehensive visions. The Kabakovs’ works will be displayed all around the walls of Spazio -1, while the paintings of the historical avant-gardes will be mounted on temporary walls placed diagonally in the central area of the exhibition space; these walls will form a grid occupied at the centre by a cross-like structure that is clearly a nod to Suprematism. Paintings that represent European Abstract Art’s finest output are thus englobed in an installation that is the work of one of the most famous names in contemporary art. 

Beyond any chronological or genre-based division, the exhibition triggers off a temporal short-circuit, an important synthesis that tells of art and of history, of the great social and cultural systems of the past century, and of the successive fragmentation of our complex present.

The Kabakovs and the Avant-Gardes Libretto The Kabakovs and the Avant-GardesGiancarlo & Danna Olgiati
Our relations with the Kabakovs

Interview by Bettina Della Casa


List of Avant-Gardes artists

Giacomo Balla / Umberto Boccioni / Fortunato Depero / Alexandra Exter / Natalija Gončarova / Vassilij Kandinskij / Michail Larionov / Fernand Léger / Kazimir Malevič / Filippo Tommaso Marinetti / Michail Matjusin / Michail Menkov / Ljubov Popova / Enrico Prampolini / Aleksandr Rodčenko / Olga Rozanova / Luigi Russolo / Kurt Schwitters / Gino Severini / Mario Sironi / Ardengo Soffici / Varvara Stepanova