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Alexander Brodsky’s name became known in the late 1980 when his architectural projects done in collaboration with Ilya Utkin started winning international competitions. The two friends’ works from that epoch are now recognized classics of “paper architecture” – a field that drew many talented Soviet architects who shared the view that architectural practices of the day offered no opportunity for creative self-realization. At the end of the 1980s – on the eve of Gorbachev’s Perestroika, Brodsky and Utkin with a team of friends designed the interior of “Atrium”, a restaurant in Moscow. When built, it proved that a thing of imagination is always bigger than its execution. The two collaborators soon parted their ways. Brodsky moved to the US and concentrated on making art.
When in the early 2000s he moved back to Russia again, he at last became a practicing architect. Yet he has never stopped making art. Already the first works done after his return, were border dwellers. It is often hard to say with certainty whether his creations are art objects or architectural works. The famed Vodka Ceremonies Pavilion that he did for the Klyasma Art Festival became the most recognizable “Brodsky” building. The perishable one-season ice bar built for ice boaters on the Pirogov water reservoir was a perfect gesture, an expression of pure art.
All of Brodsky’s work reflects his reluctance to separate art and architecture. In fact, he refuses to make any distinction between the two. At the 2006 Biennial of Architecture Brodsky filled the exhibition hall with installations, and put on a slide show of his architectural projects in the basement.
Brodsky’s formal language is made of objects that seek to reproduce dreams and memories. The latter are a favorite theme of the artist. While he was still living in the US, Brodsky exhibited an installation that treated this theme in a very direct fashion. Called “Grey Matter”, it comprised hundreds of grey clay objects – everyday or not – all shaped from memory. It was a veritable catalogue of swarming mental images, of things from the past. Having turned to practical architecture, Brodsky extended his passion for reminiscing into architectural spaces, enriching them with images held in his memory. The effect of this “method” (although Brodsky is supremely a-methodical) was amazing. His objects transcended the isolation and self-containment typical of art and started shaping everyday reality. Brodsky’s love of home life, of domestic warmth and coziness make his houses exceptionally livable and gives his art works a homey accessibility and charm. They always mirror the viewer’s mental world, and their metaphorical meanings never come before the outward form. However, while looking at these “ordinary things”, the viewer is moved to experience extraordinary, deeply felt emotions. These emotions connect what seems like banalities of our day-to-day to life, fate, and history.
1955 born in Moscow
1968–1969 studied in Moscow Arts College
1972 entered Moscow Architectural Institute
1978–1993 worked together with Ilya Utkin on numerous interiors, projects and installations for international competitions and exhibitions
1993–2000 doing graphics, sculpture and installations
2000 founded his own architectural practice Bureau “Alexander Brodsky”, which he runs to present date
2010 Kandinsky Prize (nomination "Project of the year") was presented to Brodsky and his installation "The Trip"
2011 winner of the VII All-Russian Contemporary Visual Art Prize INNOVATION for his installation "Cisterna"
Lives and works in Moscow
1989 “Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin”. University Art Gallery, San-Diego State University, USA
1990 “Brodsky&Utkin”. Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York, USA
1991 “Brodsky and Utkin: Etchings”. The Lab, San Francisco, USA
1993 “Brodsky and Utkin”. Portland Art Museum, USA
1995 “Utopian Canalisation”. Regina Gallery, Moscow, Russia
1996 “Canal Street Subway Project”. New York, USA
1999 “Palazzo Nudo”. Urban installation, Pittsburg, USA; “Grey Matter”. Feldman Gallery, New York, USA
2000 “Coma”. Marat Guelman Gallery, Moscow, Russia
2006 “Localita Abitata”. Installation in the Russian Pavilion at the Architectural Biennale Venice, Italy
2009 “Windows and Factories“. M & J Guelman Gallery, Moscow; “Night before the offensive“. III Moscow Biennale, Winzavod.
2010 “Installations”. PERMM museum of Contemporary Art, Perm, Russia
2011 "Cisterna". Collector Gallery, Moscow, Russia
2013 “Facades”. Triumph gallery, Moscow.
2001 “Milano Europa 2000”. Palazzo Della Triennale, Milano, Italy
2002 “Utopie Quotidiane”. Padiglione d’arte contemporaneo, Milano, Italy; “XXV Biennial de Sao Paulo”. Sao Paulo, Brasil
2006 “Russia!” Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain
2008 “YouPrison”. Fondazione Sandretto, Torino, Italy
2009 “20 garbage bins“. 3d Moscow Biennale, main exhibition.
2011 “Looking for a Masterpiece”, Open Gallery, Moscow
2012 “I've Been Here!”, Open Gallery, Moscow
2013 “Sopromat”, Artplay Design Centre, Moscow
Shusev State Architectural Museum, Moscow
Pushkin Fine Arts Museum, Moscow
State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York
Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon, USA
San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, California, USA
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., USA
Nancy and Norton Dodge collection, Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA
Wellington Art Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand
Deutches Architekturmuseum, Frankfurt am Main, Germany