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Final Farewell: The Culture of Death and the Afterlife

Funerals, Burials and Mourning

back to Funerals, Burial & Mourning section homeMourning WearMourning AccessoriesThe Funeral Tomb of the Old White KingAt Durer's Grave(Approaching the Guillotine)James & Lonise BiasLenin at the Palladiumto Final Farewell exhibition beginning

Lenin at the Palladium, May Day, New York CityLenin at the Palladium, May Day, New York City

Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid are known for their collaborative projects and for initiating the SOTS Art movement in 1967 (Soviet Pop/Conceptual Art). Their Russian heritage and post-Revolution upbringing influenced their decision to focus on issues of mass consumption and popular art. Melamid described their work as “dissident art” or nonconformist art because its themes challenge Socialist Realism by emphasizing the irony of Soviet artwork and culture.

Vitaly Komar
(American, b. Russia, 1943)
and Alexander Melamid
(American, b. Russia, 1945)
Lenin at the Palladium, May Day, New York City
1992
Serigraph
(97.16.8)
Gilbreath-McLorn Museum Fund

In this serigraph, Komar and Melamid ridicule the preservation and hero worship of the body of communist leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. Within the title, May Day refers to an important holiday in communist countries that developed out of the international socialist movement in the Soviet Union, led by Lenin. Upon his death, Lenin’s body was embalmed and preserved in a coffin with a glass top, and it is on permanent display at the Lenin Mausoleum in Moscow. In Komar and Melamid’s rendition, a wax replica of the leader’s embalmed body mocks both Lenin and Marxism. Their replica shows that the idea of preserving Lenin’s dead body was a sham and that his ideas are now also dead.

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