El Lissitzky

El Lissitzky, a Russian  artist, designer, photographer, typographer and architect was important during the Russian Suprematism. He designed many works alongside his mentor, Kazimir Malevich (founded this arts movement). These works displayed propaganda and displays for exhibition. His works changed the way one experiments with materials and production techniques, which later influenced the Bauhaus  and carries on to 20th century graphic design. He innovated change in producing photomontage, book production, and typographic exhibitions. El Lissitzky believed that artwork and artists could be used to change surrounding environments. Being of Jewish origin, he created books in order to help spread and share his culture through Russia. During this time, Russia was going through many changes.

His artworks, like many during this time were focused on basic geometric forms in limited colors and abstraction. Centered and based around right angles and grids. Text were often also placed at an angle. This different from the classic art usually based on what we see (Prouns: establishment for New Art). El Lissitzky’s piece “Beat the White with the Red Wedge” was one his most popular posters. In the image, we see shapes of primarily white, black and some grey. These simple composition is broken by a large red triangle placed in the center of the frame. This was said to symbolize the environment in this time period- the bolsheviks fighting their opponents during Russian Civil War.

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This helping begin the Constructivist movement. His works similar to these helped spread that art is not only what you see, but also can spread an idea or phase through simple shapes and forms.

https://www.britannica.com/biography/El-Lissitzky

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Gustav Klutsis

Gustav Klutsis Was born in a country called Latvia, He was drafted into the Russian army in 1917, fighting in WWI. After he served his time in the army he studied art and married his longtime collaborator and wife Valentina Kulagina. He also joined the communist party. This is important because the main focus of his life’s work is Russian Constructivism. Before Stalin rose to power Klutsis enjoyed making very revolutionary art where he explored the use of geometric shapes, photo montages, and Propaganda like images. He was known for making political photo montages and in 1918 he along with Hannah Hoch, Raoul Hausmann, and El Lissitzky were credited on inventing the subgenre of political photo montage. In the beginning of his career he was free to experiment but around when Stalin came to power he was pressured to be less radical and feature Stalin more. In 1938 he was arrested and executed on Stalin’s orders.

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Gustav Klutsis “Spartakiada Moscow”

If we take a look that two different pieces we can see the evolution of his photo montage but also his freedoms becoming restricted. If we look at the piece above called “Spartakiada Moscow”. Spartakiada was an international sports event held by the Soviet Union. This is one of the posters advertising it. In the poster we can see the beginnings of his photo montage style. He uses multiple images of people participating in sports to advertise the event that’s being held. We can also see the remints of Dadaism in this poster. It looks a little like organized chaos, it has a grid system that helps organize it but the images help keep that chaotic tension. Some images being squares while others are cropped out to just the figures. This helps with the chaotic feeling. Another thing is each photo that is below the upper half is a fighting sport or a show of strength. They have wrestling, fencing, weight lifting, and two boxing images. This helps create tension because each image is of action. Another very important image is the women in the upper right hand corner. She is important because it represents a very important ideal of Soviet Russia, how everyone can be useful especially the women of society. The type lays along the lines of the grids and are made of cut construction paper helping connect the dada movement to this poster. However, if we jump forward in time we can see some changes in the art.

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Gustav Klutsis “Under the Banner of Lenin for Socialist Construction”

If we look above, we see a poster called “Under the Banner of Lenin for Socialist Construction”. This is a propaganda poster made by Klutsis a few years after “Spartakiada Moscow” was made. We see an evolution of his photomontage techniques. His montage’s have become more complicated and complex. The main subject of the poster is Stalin and Lenin who are in the center of the poster. Each a photo of their head are meshed together with the eyes coming together. This is a very popular thing done at the time. This represents the Soviet Union’s one vision. A shared vision of everyone. The photos surrounding Stalin and Lenin are industrious in nature and represent the forward movement the Soviet Union is taking. This image does not push the boundaries nearly as much as the earlier image. This image doesn’t harken back to Dadaism but is much more in control and less random and chaotic. It serves it purpose of encouraging people to follow in the footsteps of the the communist regime.

Klutsis and his wife made many pieces of art some pushing the boundaries of Avant garde art and some more on the side of conventional propaganda. During his whole lifetime however the duo developed Photomontage to an impressive level of complexity and helped set how image and text relate together.

Vladimir Tatlin

Vladimir Tatlin was a Soviet painter and architect. He was the creator of the Russian Constructivism. He worked as a merchant sea cadet which allowed him to travel abroad. After his return from the sea he attended the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture for about 2 years. He was influenced by Pablo Picasso’s Cubist reliefs and Russian Futurism. He wanted his work to suit the Russian Communist revolution by blending art with a modern purpose.

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Vladimir is most known for his piece Monument to the Third International (1919-20).  This piece has also been referred to as Tatlin’s Tower. This tower was a model for the headquarters of the International Communist movement. The tower stayed as model and was never actually built as a headquarters due to funding and other reasons. This piece is a three dimensional piece that is made out of wood, iron and glass. To Tatlin steel and glass were the most modern materials for construction as well as a reflection of the ideas of Constructivism. These materials reflected constructivism because they were simple, modern and everyday materials which were key to the Constructivism movement. The tower consists of a steel spiral frame which is 1,300 feet tall. This spiral represents the rising of the Russian Revolution as well as constructivism. The spiral start from the ground and steadily rises to the sky symbolizing the growth of Russian Revolution Communism.  Vladimir combined art and technology to create this revolutionary piece which many has said has a utopian vibe.

 

Vladimir Tatlin was a big inspiration for the arts. He was the creator of Constructivism. Constructivism was a new approach to making objects which abolished the traditional thinking of composition and replaced it with the construction. His works have been inspiration to many architectects and artists to use new forms of art.

 

Work Cited

“Vladimir Tatlin Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works.” The Art Story. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.