Ilya Kabakov

Soviet and American conceptual artist

Ilya Iosifovich Kabakov (September 30, 1933May 27, 2023) was a Soviet-born American conceptual artist, born in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine. He worked for thirty years in Moscow, from the 1950s until the late 1980s. He lived and worked on Long Island.

Ilya Kabakov in 2017


  • For me the art world is like a huge river, which began somewhere in the past and keeps flowing towards the future.
    • In: Boris Groĭs, ‎David A. Ross, ‎Iwona Blazwick (1998). Ilya Kabakov, p. 22
  • Fear is the reason for making art. It is a means to freedom.
    • Quoted in: Kelly Rae Roberts (2008). Taking Flight: Inspiration And Techniques To Give Your Creative Spirit Wings. p. 35

Quotes about Ilya Kabakov

  • Ilya and Emilia Kabakov have been collaborating since 1989, 3 years before their marriage in 1992. Ilya was born in 1933 and spent years working as an artist prior to meeting Emilia, but the couple’s meeting sparked the installation practice that defined their aesthetic trajectory.
    • Svetlana Boym. Diasporic Intimacy: Ilya Kabakov’s Installations and Immigrant Homes. 1998.
  • [Ilya Kabakov] saw Total Installation as a new art form that incorporated all the forms that had come before, including painting, drawing, sculpture, plus the theatrical forms of scene-making, music, and the atmosphere created by the interaction of light and color. If the artist has properly manipulated all these elements, those who enter become "simultaneously both a 'victim' and a viewer, who on the one hand surveys and evaluates the installation, and on the other, follows those associations, recollections which arise in him; he is overcome by the intense atmosphere of the total illusion.
    • Ilya Kabakov, ‎Emilia Kabakov (2005). An alternative history of art: Rosenthal, Kabakov, Spivak. p. 148
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