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M. N. Sokolov

(Iosifovich)

(b Dnepropetrovsk [now Dnipropetrivs’k], Sept 30, 1933).

Russian graphic, conceptual, and installation artist of Ukrainian birth. In 1957 he graduated from Surikov Art Institute in Moscow, where he specialized as an illustrator. Many years of producing artwork for children’s literature, for the Moscow Detskaya Literatura and Malysh publishing houses and the magazines Murzilka and Vesyolyye kartinki, partly shaped his slyly ironic graphic style; working as an illustrator was his only means of earning a living when avant-garde experimentation was officially banned. After experimenting with Abstract Expressionism and an absurd neo-Surrealist grotesque style, in 1970–78 he produced distinctive albums that, through a subtle interplay of visual and verbal elements, reveal disturbing existential contradictions. Best known is the album Okno (‘The window’), published in 1985 in Berne. Since 1978 Kabakov’s art has become more conceptual and he has created what he calls zhek picture displays (from the acronym ZhEK, referring to housing management), which parody wall newspapers and Soviet posters. These works are typical of ...