Once dubbed “exasperating expatriates” for their relentless, wry mockery of the social, political, and artistic systems of the former Soviet Union, Vitaly Komar and Alex Melamid met as art students in Moscow, and teamed up in 1965. They worked together until 2004, creating an outpouring of paintings, sculptures, installations, performances, public projects, photographs, music, and poetry, charged with keen criticisms of Communism, consumerism, the art market, and other human excesses. In 1967, they founded the SOTS Art Movement, a mash-up of Socialist Realism, Dada, Conceptualism, and Pop Art. “If pop-art was born by the overproduction of things and their advertising, then Sots Art was born of the overproduction of ideology and its propaganda, including visual propaganda,” Komar once explained. In 1978, they defected from the USSR and moved to America, where they could freely pursue their subversive vision.
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