Constructivism was an architectural and artistic philosophy that was developed in Russia in the early 20th century. It was developed by Vladimir Tatlin in 1913 but thrived at a time when Bolshevik was rising to power during the October Revolution of 1917. It became a fundamental pillar of hopes and ideas among the Russian artist who advocated for the revolution. Constructivism advocated for a careful technical exploration of modern materials with the aim of yielding mass production that would serve a more communist society. It embedded philosophies from Futurism, Suprematism, and Cubism. The key philosophy behind constructive was to abolish the traditional art of "composition" and replace it with a more contemporary art of "construction."
Concepts and Styles of
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Constructivism developed along Suprematism, but unlike the latter which was centered on mystic abstractions, it openly embraced the cultural and social advances that resulted from the First World War and the 1917-October Revolution. Its primary concern was to use real materials such as art for the greater good, a philosophy that aligned with the then principal of the Communist Regime. A majority of those who advocated for the Russian Constructivist were involved in typography and graphics, architecture, interior and fashion design and several other art jobs. A lot of these people had also engaged in Suprematist ideas, and they criticized traditional art which they planned to supplant with Constructivism. Several artists who exhibited their design during the '5 x 5 = 25' exhibition officially declared that painting was no longer suitable and should only be used during the eventual constructions.
Key Ideas of Constructivism
Constructivists aimed to replace the traditional art with a modern art that was centered on construction. Art was not to be used to express beauty, to represent the world, or to express a personal outlook but to carry out a detailed analysis of the materials and architecture that would lead to functional objects that would result in tangible results. It also sought to determine how material behaved under various circumstances. The impression was that the material used determined the artwork and the goal was to transform ideas into goals through mass production. Lastly, Constructivism offered a platform to express and experience modern life, and the dynamism that came with it. It would act as an appropriate tool to advocate for more appropriate goals of the revolution such as democracy.
The Decline of Constructivism
The movement failed to make the transition from a “composition” artist to a “construction” artist, most of what was anticipated just occurred as ideas. Several people continued to advocate for the philosophy of the value of abstract, systematic work, and the value of art per se, which had an adverse effect on its spread across Europe. A few people adopted a new but short lived phase of Productivism which involved artists working in industries. By the mid-1920's, Constructivism had declined partly due to the new regime’s hostile behavior against new art. However, it inspired some in the West, and at a time of its decline in Russia, a movement known as International Constructivism was thriving in Germany and went on to make great cultural and social impact until the 1950s.
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