Venice Biennale: Vladimir Dubossarsky and Alexander Vinogradov

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The Russian artist duo Vladimir Dubossarsky and Alexander Vinogradov present Danger! Museum at the 53rd Venice Biennale. In this playful installation of paintings and video, the artists continue their exploration of painting’s art historical past and the legacy of Socialist-realism. In this instance their paintings are created through the lens of the the Italian Renaissance, highly appropriate for the Biennale’s setting.

Dubossarsky and Vinogradov’s exhibition both celebrates and satirizes the history of art while engaging our own contemporary period. A large-scale work like Lera – Venere is a modern take on the prevalent reclining female nude, complete with dreadlocks and black underwear. It is certainly in dialogue with Titian’s Venus of Urbino–an artist whose connections to Venice are palpable. In Happy Birthday Mynheer Rembrandt, the revered artist is celebrated by repeating his many famous self-portrait images against a modern cityscape.

Dubossarsky and Vinogradov also depict the important 20th century artists, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol as a pirate and a knight, respectively. In a particularly interesting painting, Barack Obama, a 21st century hero, is also transported to the past through the archetypal image of leader on horseback.

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The artists also explore the relationship between the audience and the paintings on display. While each visitor walks through the exhibition, the paintings are, in effect, actually looking back at them through hidden cameras. This fact is revealed to the visitor in the very last room of the exhibition, in which multiple surveillance-style screens are set up. Here, the audience is able to watch their own image move through the exhibition in what makes for an hilarious and interesting viewing experience.

The artists Vladimir Dubossarsky and Alexander Vinogradov both attended the Moscow Art College and the Moscow State Art Institute. They have shown internationally since founding their artistic partnership in 1994. The artists both live and work in their native Moscow.

Danger! Museum is presented at the Venice Biennale as a Collateral Event by the Moscow Museum of Modern Art and the New Rules Foundation along with the patronage of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. It will be on display at the Palazzo Bollani throughout the Biennale, which concludes 22 November 2009.

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