Vitaly Komar and Alex Melamid, (respectively, born Sept. 11, 1943, Moscow, Russia, U.S.S.R bornJuly 14, 1945, Moscow, Russia, U.S.S.R), Russian-born American artistic duo known for their collaborative works that commented on power and popular culture using a wide range of media. They worked together from 1965 to 2003.
At the beginning of the 1970s,Komar and Melamid began to thematize in their works this strange Soviet mixture of avant-garde utopianism and academic tradition.They called their artistic practices,a combination of “Sotsrealism” (as Socialist Realism was usually called in Soviet times) and American Pop Art, “Sots Art.” First of all, the artists focused on the visual world of the Stalin myth and of Soviet ideological propaganda, which was also easy to recognize visually outside the borders of the Soviet Union.The Lenin and Stalin portraits with white slogans written on a red background, such as “Folk and Party Are One” and “Forward to the Victory of Communism,” are just as closely associated with Soviet Russia and assimilated through the mass media and mass consciousness as the pyramids are associated with Egypt or Mickey Mouse and McDonald’s are associated with the United States.
Vitaly Komar & Alexander Melamid both grew up in Moscow. Their educations followed the same path: they attended the Moscow Art School from 1958 to 1960 and then the Stroganov Institute of Art and Design, where they began their collaborative work. Rather than following the dictates of Socialist Realism, the style officially endorsed by the Soviet government, they chose a dissident role. Komar and Melamid immigrated to the United States in 1978.
Stalin in Front of Mirror (from the Nostalgic Socialist Realism series) | (1982-83)
Liberty as Justice | (1996-1998).