Artist Focus: Viktor Pivovarov (b. 1937)

The accompanying “Art in Context” video featuring art historian Jane Sharp examines a lithograph by Viktor Pivovarov. In this work, various objects and words seem to float across the page: a pair of sunglasses; a pencil with a landscape aligned neatly along one of its sides; a hand. A man’s face peeks out from the lower left corner, partially concealed by a fly and an apple (after which the piece is named). A dreamlike balloon of images emerges from the man’s head. The work playfully, or perhaps maddeningly, invites us to make sense of the chaos. It is this interplay and its effects on the viewer that characterize the conceptual work Viktor Pivovarov pioneered as a member of the Moscow conceptualist art movement. A creator of prints and children’s books, Pivovarov drew heavily on these influences when combining text and image. In contrast to the didactic agenda of official Soviet art, his works invited viewers into a web of images containing multiple possible stories. Affirming the viewers’ individuality, this reading relies on unique perspectives, assumptions, and associations to complete the meaning-making experience.

Watch minutes 00:45–12:45 of the accompanying video to learn more about Pivovarov and his invitation for viewers to become “co-creators” of meaning for his work.