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Alexander Kosolapov (Russian/American, b. 1943) Mickey-Lenin

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American & European Works of Art - 3029B
Date / Time :
September 27, 2017 4:00PM


Alexander Kosolapov (Russian/American, b. 1943)

Signed and dated "A. KOSOLAPOV/2002" on the base on the reverse, title provided by the artist.
Bronze with a golden brown patina, height 50 in. (127.0 cm).
Condition: Abrasions and nicks to the edges of the base.

N.B. Alexander Kosolapov's sculptures, paintings, and prints provoke harsh criticism, sometimes censorship, and often humor. His jokes are not partisan—they poke at both Russia and the United States. He appropriates imagery from Soviet history, pop culture, religion, and art history that he combines in often subversive ways. Taking a cue from Andy Warhol, Kosolapov delights in iconic symbols of American consumerist culture. For Kosolapov, these include Mickey Mouse, Marlboro, and Coca-Cola, images of which he links with political and religious figures central to Russian culture, including Stalin, Lenin, and Christ. He never forgets his place in the continuum of art history, often including some nod to artists who preceded him.

In Mickey-Lenin, the major players are obvious: Mickey Mouse and Vladimir Lenin, and the connotations come easily: East-West, Russia-United States, communism-capitalism, good-evil, and high-low. Kosolapov modeled the figure's body after statues of Lenin by the Soviet sculptor Nikolai Tomsky, and its pose is that of a classical Roman figure sculpted in the traditional medium of bronze. Kosolapov developed the idea for Mickey-Lenin shortly after immigrating to the United States in 1975. He found the discarded plastic head of a Mickey Mouse toy, took it home, and placed it atop a small sculpture of Lenin that he kept on his desk.

Kosolapov identifies with a movement known as Sots Art. Developed in Moscow in the 1970s by the art duo Komar and Melamid, Sots Art (an abbreviation of "socialist pop art") reacted against the conformist, state-sanctioned style of Socialist Realist art and the bold graphic style of Soviet state propaganda by using their imagery in Dadaist artworks and conceptual performances. By the 1980s, the Soviet government recognized the political criticism of Sots Art and began to put pressure on artists associated with the movement to emigrate. Still wary of political criticism, Russian authorities do not roll out the red carpet for Kosolapov. Artworks in a 2003 group show, Caution! Religion!, at the Andrei Sakharov Museum in Moscow, to which he contributed works including a print entitled This Is My Blood (a depiction of Christ next to the Coca-Cola logo), were vandalized by Russian Orthodox radicals, eventually resulting in the arrest of the exhibition curator, museum director, and one of the artists. The same museum director and a curator were arrested again after the group show, Forbidden Art 2006, in which Kosolapov also participated.
Estimate $25,000-35,000

Numbered "1/4" on the base, above the signature.

The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging. Condition requests can be obtained via email (lot inquiry button) or by telephone to the appropriate gallery location (Boston/617.350.5400 or Marlborough/508.970.3000). Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner Inc. shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.


Nikolai Tomsky, Andy Warhol, B. Alexander Kosolapov, Stalin, Alexander Kosolapov, Alexander Melamid, Art movements, Jewish artists, Komar and Melamid, Mickey Mouse, Modern painters, Sots Art, Soviet Nonconformist Art, Soviet Union, Visual arts, Vladimir Lenin, East-West, Moscow, United States