Russian Constructivism

Russian Constructivism came to existence in 1913 and was influenced by Cubism, Suprematism and Futurism and was the most influential modern art movement in Russia in the 20th Century. (Constructivism Movement Overview, n.d.)

Constructivists believed that art should reflect the modern industrial world and they rejected the idea that artistic objects should be created by composition and beauty and instead should directly relate to construction. This meant that they invented a whole new way of creating objects in art. (Gorman, 2019)

Constructivists are very interesting because they paid close attention to the analysis of modern materials like wood, glass and metal in an aim to see how these materials behaved and could be used in the construction of art.

Constructivism was also seen as a way to further the Russian Revolution and represented an end to communism in Russia. (Constructivism Movement Overview, n.d.)

I believe it to be a very strong and powerful movement that is still influencing modern designers and artists today.

Russian Constructivism posters often contained abstract, political messages and the use of the colours Red Black and White was often a prominent feature. (Gorman, 2019)

It had harsh angled shapes and any letters would usually be bold, large and often in all capitals. (Gorman, 2019)

A notable piece from this period would be “Beat The Whites With The Red Wedge” by El Lissitzky, often just referred to as “The Red Wedge”. (Gorman, 2019)

It was created in 1919 and was a Soviet Propaganda poster. (STAŃSKA, 2018)

He was in support of the Red Army and created this image to symbolise the Red Army infiltrating and destroying the anti-communist white army. (STAŃSKA, 2018)

The image has been discussed and studied consistently since its creation and it is a prime example of the constructivism movement that was popular at the time.

Fig 1. El Lissitzky’s Red Wedge, 1919.

My favourite art piece of this time was Rodchenko poster known as “Knigi” which depicts a model, Lilya Brik, joyfully yelling “Books!” which was to encourage the people of Russia to become literate. (Anderson, n.d.)

I really like this image because of the strong message and use of shapes and colour but also because similar versions of this image are still being used in pop culture today and it is very recognisable.

Fig 2. David Redon’s Beyonce Poster, Inspired by Rodchenko, 2014.
Fig 3. Rodchenko’s “Knigi”, “Books! Please. In All Branches of Knowledge”, 1924.

This style of art was extremely powerful at the time in Russia and had strong political messages throughout the Russian Revolution. It eventually started to fade out throughout the 1920s but it was still very influential and it still inspires modern pieces of art today. (Constructivism Movement Overview, n.d.)

Recently I noticed that the band “The White Stripes” use art that influenced by De Stijl which is similar to Russian Constructivism with its abstract shapes and bold colours.

However I found this album art of theirs that, to me, has a more Russian Constructivism influence than De Stijl.

It is the artwork for a remixed version of their single “Seven Nation Army” and has strong triangular shapes with the use of the colours, red, white and black. It also looks darker than some of their other album art and I feel it is influenced by Russian Constructivism.

Fig 4. The White Stripes, Seven Nation Army Remix, 2021.

Personally, I’m quite interested in this style of artwork and I look forward to exploring it more in my studies.

References:

Bibliography:

Anderson, A., n.d. A Graphic History: Rodchenko’s Lady of Lit. [online] Anderson Creative. Available at: <https://andersoncreative.works/a-graphic-history-rodchenkos-lady-of-lit/&gt; [Accessed 22 February 2022].

Gorman, I., 2019. W2 Contextual Studies. Dublin Design Institute.

STAŃSKA, Z., 2018. El Lissitzky – Beat The Whites With The Red Wedge. [online] DailyArt Magazine. Available at: <https://www.dailyartmagazine.com/beat-the-whites-with-the-red-wedge/&gt; [Accessed 22 February 2022].

The Art Story. n.d. Constructivism Movement Overview. [online] Available at: <https://www.theartstory.org/movement/constructivism/&gt; [Accessed 22 February 2022].

Pictography:

Fig 1. STAŃSKA, Z., 2018. El Lissitzky – Beat The Whites With The Red Wedge. [online] DailyArt Magazine. Available at: <https://www.dailyartmagazine.com/beat-the-whites-with-the-red-wedge/&gt; [Accessed 22 February 2022].

Fig 2. Bousquet, K., 2014. You Have to See These ‘Vintage’ Posters Inspired by Modern Music. [online] StyleCaster. Available at: <https://stylecaster.com/vintage-posters-david-redon/slide1&gt; [Accessed 22 February 2022].

Fig 3. Anderson, A., n.d. A Graphic History: Rodchenko’s Lady of Lit. [online] Anderson Creative. Available at: <https://andersoncreative.works/a-graphic-history-rodchenkos-lady-of-lit/&gt; [Accessed 22 February 2022].

Fig 4. Discs, G., 2021. Seven Nation Army (The Glitch Mob Remix) – The White Stripes [7″ Colour VINYL]. [online] Golden Discs. Available at: <https://goldendiscs.ie/products/seven-nation-army-the-glitch-mob-remix-the-white-stripes-vinyl-1&gt; [Accessed 22 February 2022].

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