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The Cupola, 2003

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov’s The Cupola is a large mixed- media installation which resembles a rose window: in the center, in the depths of the cupola, there is a white aperture from which colored “beams” radiate in all directions; their colors change, in infinite variations, in concert with the music played under the cupola. The work is based on the ideas of the great Russian composer Scriabin, and other composers of the 1920s and 1930s, on the connection between sound and color. Originally conceived for the Ruhrtriennale, in Bochum, in 2003, it has been exhibited at the Madrid Arena in 2011 and at the Grand Palais, Paris in 2014. Beside its sculptural value, The Cupola is also considered by its creators as a site for other artistic and creative events. It is a “Gesamtkunstwerk” (“total work of art”) that unites visual, musical and performance art, reflecting on the experimental utopian projects of the early twentieth century.

King Abdulaziz Historical Center

The Cupola, 2003

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov

Russia / United States

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov (b. 1933 and 1945) are Russian-born, American-based artists who collaborate on environments which fuse elements of the everyday with those of the conceptual, exploring utopia and escapism, as well as the fears, dreams and hopes of people. While their work is deeply rooted in the Soviet social and cultural context in which the Kabakovs came of age, their work still attains a universal significance.

They have been shown in such venues as Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Tate Modern, London; Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum, New York; the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg; the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC among others. In 1993 they represented Russia at the 45th Venice Biennale with their installation The Red Pavilion. Their project with children The Ship of Tolerance was shown in ten countries, including Cuba, Egypt, Russia, the UAE and the US. The Kabakovs have also received honors and awards such as the Commandeur De L'Ordre Des Arts Et Des Lettres (2014); the Cartier Prize from Art Masters, St. Moritz, Switzerland (2010); The Praemium Imperiale, Japan (2008); the Oscar Kokoschka Preis, Vienna (2002); the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, Paris (1995); and an Honorary Diploma, Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy (1993).

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