The exhibition

A visit to the exhibition Lissitzky - Kabakov, Utopia and Reality is a (re) introduction to the Soviet Union. The artists Ilya (1933) and Emilia (1945) Kabakov made an extensive selection from their own work and that of El Lissitzky. The seven rooms on the second floor of the Van Abbemuseum have their own theme, each of them shown from the perspective of Lissitzky's Soviet avant-garde art on the one hand and the art that emerged at the end of the Soviet period by Kabakov on the other. Lissitzky’s enthusiasm for the revolution and his involvement in the new social order stands in contrast to Kabakov’s melancholic but also humorous representation and interpretation of the the late Soviet era. In this way, pairing Lissitzky with the Kabakovs completes the circle which started with the revolutions in the early years of the twentieth century and finished with the upheavals of 1991.

This website

In the exhibition, the two artists present their reflections on the Soviet Union. This website gives multiple perspectives and gives you anintroduction to the Soviet Union. Per theme, this website offers you:

  • Social and historical information given by Henk Kern (Russian historian at the University of Leiden)
  • A personal perspective through the stories of seven citizens from former Soviet States
  • An intuitive introduction via a soundscape, made by music expert Frank de Munnik

We invite our visitors to add to this archive of stories with their own experiences and anecdotes. Perhaps you yourself come from Russia, you have family in the Ukraine or you are went on a holiday in Estonia? Share your stories with our visitors and read the experiences of others on this website. We have also included a number of documentaries by Jelle Brandt Corstius and Kysia Hekster. Do you have any tips for interesting resources like movies, documentaries and websites? As people add material the site will grow into a rich archive of stories.

In the museum

If you visit the exhibition, do not forget to take your smartphone or tablet (with earplugs). While walking through the exhibition you can get acquainted with different perspectives.
At the entrance of the exhibition you can also sit down behind one of the available iPads, in order to browse through the archive and leave your own stories behind.

You can find the exhibition program on:

The exhibition is made possible with the support of Ammodo, BankGiro Loterij, Mondriaan Fund, SNS REAAL Fonds, Turing Foundation and VSB Fonds..



The exhibition is part of NLRF2013, the Dutch – Russian year and travels to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and the Multimedia Art Museum (MAMM) in Moscow in 2013.

Nederland Rusland 2013

This website has been designed by Bruut ontwerp commissioned by the Van Abbemuseum, for the exhibition Lissitzky-Kabakov, Utopia and Reality.
The movies have been made by and the soundscape is realised by Frank de Munnik.
For all images copy rights apply.
© 2012