Soviet constructivism is a modern art movement that began around 1913. Constructivist art, theatre and exhibitions were produced by a group of avant-garde artists in Moscow, Odessa and St. Petersburg. Constructivist art began with works of primarily abstract constructions. After 1916 the brothers Naum (Pevsner) Gabo and Antoine Pevsner sculptural added an emphasis related to the technology of the society in which they were created. Constructivism was closely related to another modern art movement named suprematism, which sought "to liberate art from the ballast of the representational world." It consisted of geometrical shapes flatly painted on the pure canvas surface.

Constructivism was founded by an artist/architect named Vladimir Tatlin. Tatlin was born in Moscow in 1885 and studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture and at the Penza Art School. An underlying feature of Constructivism is that it was promoted by the new Soviet Education Commissariate which used artists and art to educate the public. Later, as an educator, Tatlin emphasized design principles based on the inner behavior and loading capacities of material. It was this work with materials that inspired the Constructivist movement in architecture and design.

Constructivist art is characterized by a total abstraction and an acceptance of everything modern. It is often very geometric, it is usually experimental, and is rarely emotional. Objective forms and icons were used over the subjective or the individual. The art is often very simple and reduced, paring the artwork down to its basic elements. Constructivist artisits often used new media to create their work. The context of Russian Constructivist art is important, "the Constructivists sought an art of order, which would reject the past (the old order which had culminated in World War I) and lead to a world of more understanding, unity, and peace." (Site #4)


Model for the 3rd International Tower, 1919-1920

Vladimir Tatlin initiated Russian Constructivism. As a new interdisciplinary movement, Russian Constructivism derived its name from Tatlin's construction of abstract sculptures. The above model displays the ideals of abstraction, functionalism and utilitarianism. It is characteristic of most Constructivist sculptures to be created from diverse materials of the industrial age: metal, wire and plastics, which signified the strong influence of technology on the movement.



The Man with the Movie Camera, '29 (Chelovek s Kinoapparatom) USSR, '29Museum of Modern Art, New York, Arthur Drexler Fund

This poster was created by Vladimir and Georgii Stenberg, who were members of a group of artist engineers in the early Soviet Union. The brothers created posters to promote films that embody the constructivist style. This poster uses a montage of several drawings and designs from the film. It uses contrasting colours and simple designs and geometric shape. There is also a very strong emphasis on technology (the camera), which persists in constructivist art.