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Constructivismis one of the largest artists and architectural philosophies. Ittraces its origins back to Russia (Ziegler, 2012). The founders ofthe movement were committed to complete abstraction, which was a showof their devotion to modernity in art. With little or no emotion atall, geometry ruled over the themes in this movement. Theconstructivist movement followers in Russia were also quite minimal.Unlike other art movements in Europe during that time, constructivistin Russia broke down their artworks to the most basic elements. Someof the renowned constructivist art movement followers of the periodwere Alexander Rodchenko, Vladimir Tatlin and El Lissitzky (Harb,2014).
Duringthe early days, the movement was fueled by the October revolution in1917. The revolution acted as the driver of advanced Russian artists,who were vocal and logistical supporters of the revolution’s ideas.To build on the concept, the artists borrowed from the principles ofother revolutionary movements such as Futurism and Cubism (Nikitina,2012). However, the main objective of this new movement was to createobjects that were more concerned with composition and construction,more than any other element in art. As such, the artists drew upon acareful technical analysis of the modern techniques, with the aim ofmass productions. Over time, the artistry base was being transferredfrom the studios to the factory, as the artists insisted on making agradual change from analytical work to a popular artistic platform.
The Russian constructivists had in mind a movement that wouldsubstitute the traditional art, which was largely associated withcomposition. While creating objects, the artists did not payattention to elements such as beauty and outlook. Instead, theyfocused on express a fundamental analysis of each object’s artform. The aim was to design a platform where structural artists wouldcreate functional objects out of the art design of theconstructivist. According to Duffy & Johanssen (2013), this iswhat the Russian constructivists referred to as the true feel of thematerials. The philosophy of this design was that objects were to bevalued for their capacities, and be treated so. That is why theconstructivist movement was highly associated with the RussianRevolution during the time.
Duffy& Johanssen (2013) assert that the Russian constructivists wereconcerned with showing the behavior of materials. According to thisexplanation, the artists wanted to show the different capabilities ofdifferent materials such as wood, marble and paper. The traditionalart movements’ artists often manipulated the material to createattractive art form. However, the Russian constructivists used thematerial as it was to define beauty. The philosophy behind thisnature of constructivism was that artists had to celebrate thedynamism of life, and translate ideas into art that could beappreciated by all.
Thirdly,the Russian constructivists had a strong desire to create art thatexpressed the experience of modern life. To do this, the work has toreflect the different qualities of free-form life. The artistsachieved this by playing with the dimensions and qualities of spaceand time (Duffy & Johansse, 2013). Politically, the art was meantto guide the revolutionaries into believing the possibility offreedom, which they fundamentally had to obtain by force. Themovement, therefore, helped in democratizing and modernizing theRussian society. As the name suggests, the movement was meant toconstruct a new social norm, where the workers, scientist, artists,peasants and everyone else was valued in searching for new solutionsfor social challenges. Given this, the movement often found itself onthe wrong side of the law, as repressive regimes often targeted theartists and worked to demolish their work and ideologies. Accordingto Kachurin (2012), the design of the Monument to The ThirdInternational was one of the most important pieces of themovement.
Oneof the outspoken artists of the movement was StepanovaVarvara. Having gained art skills while attending Kazan Art School,she became an active participant of the movement, and signing up withthe Russian avante-garde. Besides art, she was a poet andphilosopher. These are some of the skills that drove her to move herconstructivist skills from drawn art to the realm of production. Herproductions are some of the most popular in the present time, whichare often associated with the Russian constructivist movement. Shedied in 1958, having established her name as one of Russia’s mostfamous artists.
By the mid-1920s, Russian constructivism had begun to decline. TheBolshevik`s regime influenced the decline (Shultz, 2013). Unlike theearlier regimes, his government was more hostile to the artists andtheir followers, often jailing some and forcing others into exile.However, the movement continued to inspire other artists acrossEurope and the rest of the Western world. For instance, in Germany,the movement inspired artists who embraced it and used it as a socialcommunication tool up to the end of the Second World War (Riegler,2015). Today, Russian constructivism continues to be one of the mostcelebrated artistic movements of the last century.
Duffy, T. M., & Jonassen, D. H.(Eds.). (2013). Constructivismand the technology of instruction: A conversation.Routledge.
Harb, J. (2014). The end of utopia[Utopias Art & Architecture]. Engineering & Technology, 9(1),51-53.
Kachurin, P. (2012). Working (for)the State: Vladimir Tatlin`s Career in Early Soviet Russia and theOrigins of the Monument to the Third International.Modernism/Modernity, 19(1),19-41.
Nikitina, S. (2012). Constructivistand Futurist Multimedia Experiments in Russian Poetry. Textand Image in Modern European Culture,173-83.
Riegler, A. (2015). What does thefuture hold for radical constructivism? Studiesin meaning, 5,64-86.
Shultz, S. (2013). Fulfillingthe Bolshevik ideal: Love, art, and the communist identity inrevolutionary Russia.University of Nebraska at Kearney.
Ziegler, C. E. (2012).Conceptualizing sovereignty in Russian foreign policy: Realist andconstructivist perspectives. InternationalPolitics, 49(4),400-417.