How Was Constructivism Popularized by Vladimir Tatlin?

1251 words (5 pages) Essay in Politics

08/02/20 Politics Reference this

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Modernism is defined as a movement in art which aims to depart from traditional, classical forms to the use of innovative forms of expression. It was known globally due to is society and culture during the early decades of the twentieth century (post WW1). Due to modernism it proceeded to Constructivism art which demonstrated how materials with different properties behave. Through transforming the properties of base materials like wood and glass. Not only to express the beauty of the art but to carry out a fundamental analysis of the materials and form of art. Rickey, 1995, (pg145) “No need to express art in terms of nature it can perfectly be expressed in terms of geometry and the exact science”

Vladimir Tatlin began a movement called Constructivism in Russia, 1913. Tatlin had this idea of ‘constructing art’ and producing three-dimensional outcomes, which were to be mainly made out of industrial materials and to be completely abstract. A vital part of his developing ideas was the influence of cubism and the birth of constructivism, the way in which the object spans the corner and changes the space of the room and forms unique relationships to the surrounding environment. Tatlin was originally a musical instrument maker which was believed that one of his main forms of inspiration to his work.

Tatlin first started producing free hand constructions that were made to be held in mid-air, something that he could take down and set back up again. He wanted to change the principles of a picture to be a more or less flat object bearing marks that suggest a three-dimensional scene or a decorative two-dimensional image.

One of his first approaches to this was when he created Bottle, painterly relief in 1913. This particular piece was a three-dimensional sculpture made up of tinfoil, wallpaper and strong board. Tatlins intentions for this sculpture was to produce a piece of work that was similar to a picture, is made on vertical support, yet does not depend on painting techniques and projects into real spaces. The person who influence Tatlin the most was Pablo Picasso. Picasso produced a piece called Still Life with Guitar and Bottle, also in 1913 which was made out of mixed medias. For this piece Picasso wanted to give the viewer the illusion of reality. The guitar in this work is made mainly out of cardboard and wire it adds a reference of what a guitar shape would look like to give the viewer a visual pun and make them believe it is the shape of a guitar. Picasso hung a dark cloth up on the left of the guitar to suggest a background wall and a cloth underneath the guitar to suggest a table. The contrast between Tatlins Bottle piece and Picassos Still Life is that Picasso piece was merely pined to the wall which gave it a sense of temporary, whereas Tatlins intentions were to be discreate objects that would last.

In 1919 to 1920, Tatlin had this vision to create a tower (that was never built) famously known as Tatlin’s Tower (Monument to the third international). It was to be built after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 as a monument. It was to be built made out of industrial materials such as iron, glass and steel. These particular materials would give the building a certain modern flare. It was to be bigger than the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The main shape of the tower was to be a twin helix which spiralled up to four hundred metres in height. As for the main frame work it would have four large suspended geometric structures which would route at certain rates. The base structure would be a room for business meetings, lectures and any other type of formal gatherings. This tower was to be built over the space of a year.

Due to Tatlins ideas being very ambitious (meant to be one of the biggest buildings in the world) not having detailed plans, the aftermath of the revolution and also the use of materials which in those days were a struggle to get a hold of the tower was not built.

Someone who was very much influenced by Tatlin, was a man called Alexander Rodchenko he produced work that had a clash between modern art and radical politics which lead him to emerge as a conventional painter. The Russian Revolution had a huge impact on him due to this he abandoned painting to then take up photography and would take photos of himself to discover unconventional angles which would inspire him to realise about communist symbols that had abstract and geometric elements on non-objective art. One of his pieces of work which was called Dance, An objectless composition, 1915. Rodchenko had attended a lecture which inspired him to switch from Art Nouveau style paintings and begin to fragment his forms to create dynamic compositions, to then create more abstract paintings as well. Rickey, 1995 (pg91) ‘took the square and the circle as ready-mades, comparable to those of Dunchamp, and then apportioned their space with eye, not ruler’ 

To conclude constructivism as a whole is was a familiar word in art circles supposedly intented by Vladimir Tatlin who assembled ‘corner constructions’ in 1914 which now as become a technical term without ever having to be defined. It was a global movement in society from the early decades of the 20th century. 

Bibliography for Essay

Websites:

  • Anderson, M. (2019). 10 Modernist Art Movements. [online] Encyclopedia Britannica. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/list/10-modernist-art-movements [Accessed 11 May 2019].
  • Ng, T. (2012). Constructivism Movement Overview. [online] The Art Story. Available at: https://www.theartstory.org/movement-constructivism.htm [Accessed 26 Apr. 2019].
  • Tate. (2018). Constructivism – Art Term | Tate. [online] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/c/constructivism [Accessed 26 Apr. 2019].
  • Tate. (2018). ‘1. Part of the Show Machinery’, El Lissitzky, 1923 | Tate. [online] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/lissitzky-1-part-of-the-show-machinery-p07138 [Accessed 13 Apr. 2019].
  • Tate. (2018). Rodchenko and Popova: Defining Constructivism: explore the exhibition, room 2: Graphic works 1917–19 | Tate. [online] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/rodchenko-popova/rodchenko-and-popova-defining-constructivism-1 [Accessed 22 Mar. 2019].
  • Savvine, I. (2019). Alexander Rodchenko. [online] The Art Story. Available at: https://www.theartstory.org/artist-rodchenko-alexander.htm [Accessed 22 Mar. 2019].
  • Raquo;, V. (2019). Modernism and Russian Constructivism. [online] A History of Design. Available at: https://ryanmcginley.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/164/ [Accessed 18 Mar. 2019].
  • Tate. (2019). Modernism – Art Term. [online] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/m/modernism [Accessed 18 Mar. 2019].
  • Architectuul.com. (2019). Tatlin’s Tower. [online] Available at: http://architectuul.com/architecture/tatlin-s-tower [Accessed 10 May 2019].
  • McNearney, A. (2017). Why Lenin’s Grand ‘Tatlin Tower’ Never Got Built. [online] The Daily Beast. Available at: https://www.thedailybeast.com/why-lenins-grand-tatlin-tower-never-got-built [Accessed 14 May 2019].

Books:

  • Rickey, G. (1995). Constructivism. New York: G. Braziller.
  • Lynton, N. (2009). Tatlin’s Tower. New Haven: Yale University Press.

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