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Basic Data

Ilya Kabakov was a Russian painter and conceptual artist of the present. During his creative period in the Soviet Union, he was considered a major representative of 'Moscow Conceptualism'.

  • Date of Birth: September 30, 1933
  • Died on: May 27, 2023
  • Birthplace: Dnepropetrowsk, Soviet Union
  • Nationality: Russian Art
  • Studies: VA Surikov Art Academy Moscow
  • Era: Contemporary Art
  • Style: Neo-conceptual art


lya Iossifovich Kabakov was born in 1933 Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union). He attended art school in Leningrad before moving to Moscow in 1951 to study at the Surikov Academy of Art. After graduating in 1957, he worked mostly as an illustrator for children's books.

Despite being a children's book illustrator, Kabakov was secretly active as a conceptual artist, creating a variety of works that were a critical examination of everyday Soviet life. He became part of the informal Moscow art scene, creating conceptual drawings, paintings, sculptures, and texts. In the 1990s, the artist created his so-called ,,Total Installations," which are monumental and immersive installations. He also began to collaborate with his future wife Emilia Kabakov. Together they created a variety of artistic projects.

Kabakov's works were exhibited in renowned museums and galleries worldwide. The post-Soviet artist died in 2023 at the age of 89.



  • 24.09.21 – 09.01.22 The Cool and the Cold. Malerei aus den USA und der UdSSR 1960–1990 – Gropius Bau, Berlin. Berlin.
  • 03.07.21 – 12.09.21 The Ironic Curtain Art from the Soviet Underground – Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia.
  • 08.11.19 – 03.05.20 The Missing Planet - Centro Pecci, Prato.
  • 19.10.19 – 23.02.20 Michael Müller. "DEINE KUNST" The Conditions of Being Art (oder der Amateur) Dritte Fassung - Städtische Galerie Wolfsburg.
  • 06.06.19 – 31.10.19 Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: How to Meet an Angel - Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow.
  • 08.03.18 – 19.05.18 Avatars. The artist and his double - Les Abattoirs - Frac Midi-Pyrénées, Toulouse.
  • 01.12.17 – 02.04.18 Künstlerbücher. Die Sammlung - Hamburger Kunsthalle.
  • 18.10.17 – 28.01.18 Ilya and Emilia Kabakov. Not Everyone Will Be Taken Into The Future - Tate Modern, London.



  • Mit Fliegen und Engel, documentary by Niels Bolbrinker, 93 min, 2009.
  • Die seltsame Stadt der Kabakovs (La cité étrange des Kabakov), documentary by Heinz Peter Schwerfel, 26 min, France 2013.



  • Die totale Aufklärung: Moskauer Konzeptkunst 1960–1990, Boris Groys, Max Hollein, Manuel Fontan del Junco (Publ.), Ostfildern 2008.
  • Ilya Kabakov Das angeflogene Archiv - The arriving archive, Ausstellungskatalog, Ursula Keller, Galerie der Stadt Backnang, Ostfildern 1999.