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Movements > Constructivism

Russia, ca. 1918

Vladimir Tatlin and some of his colleagues, such as Lev Bruni, Ivan Kliun, and Ivan Puni, influenced by Pablo Picasso’s Cubist sculptures, began to make abstract, nonutilitarian constructions in Russia in the years just before the 1917 revolution. This aesthetic, allied with a geometric vocabulary based on Kazimir Malevich’s Suprematism, developed into a rational, materialist, utilitarian approach to socially committed art, led by Tatlin and Aleksandr Rodchenko. After the revolution many Constructivist artists were placed in important pedagogical and administrative positions, where they advocated a culture based on new principles in art, design, typography, and architecture. In attempting to link art with industry, technology, and the ideals of a classless society through the production of socially useful objects, they developed the notion of the artist-as-engineer. The First Constructivist Art Exhibition was held in Moscow in 1921. Artists affiliated with this group included Aleksei Gan, Konstantin Medunetsky, Georgy and Vladimir Stenberg, and Varvara Stepanova, among others. The Constructivists also included another group—led by Vasily Kandinsky together with Naum Gabo and his brother Antoine Pevsner—who shared Malevich’s commitment to art as a primarily spiritual activity. Other important Constructivist artists were Aleksandra Ekster and Olga Rozanova and, in Germany, László Moholy-Nagy.


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