Lot 63
  • 63

Igor Kopystiansky, b.1954

15,000 - 20,000 GBP
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  • Igor Kopystiansky
  • destroyed painting
  • signed and titled in Latin on reverse and dated 1984; also dedicated in Cyrillic across the stretcher
  • oil on canvas
  • 69.5 by 89.75cm., 23¾ by 35¼in.


Purchased directly from the artist

Catalogue Note

Since joining the unofficial art scene in Moscow in 1978, Igor Kopystiansky has become one of Russia's leading contemporary artists. Following his emigration to America in 1988 his work has been exhibited extensively, most recently in the 2005 Russia! Exhibition at the Guggenheim museum, New York.


The offered work is based on a still image from Kopystiansky's experiments with film in the late 1970s. The unpredictability of the film-making process resulting from poor lighting conditions, imperfections in the film reel and ill-functioning camera equipment, brought into sharp focus the artistic process as the creation of heavily distorted reality. Kopystiansky began to think about painting in the same way, taking an existing 'perfect' image and destroying it to produce a new reality.



From the 1980s Kopystiansky's art has traced the ebb and flow of the constructive process with a series of destroyed and restored paintings which go beyond the basic concept of Appropriation Art. In the offered work Kopystiansky highlights the way in which the original significance of art changes with time and culture, above all in his choice of subject - a nude, the epitome of nineteenth century bourgeois aesthetic ideals which were anathema to the Russian avant garde. At the same time, however, the damaged image references the misuse of art for political propaganda.


Destroyed Painting, 1984 marks a period of transition to Kopystiansky’s larger 'Museum' series, where destruction is the source of new beauty, in the same way that architectural ruins can feel more real and inspiring than a building in perfect original condition.