Design’s Context and Culture in Russian Constructivism Artworks and Architecture

The improvement of Russian Constructivism has a lot of influence from the work of Picasso and his development of reliefs as an alternative of simple art. Tatlin was working collectively with Kazimir Malevich in the Cubo-Futurist movement, but this changed in the year 1913 when he came into contact with some of the wooded work done through Picasso. Tatlin was intrigued by the ordinary approach used by Picasso which he detailed as construction rather than carvings. This pushed him to use pre-formed factors to come up with a three-dimensional relief made out of extraordinary materials just like these used by Picasso. Glass, metal, plastic, and even wood were used in the development of art using this approach. The two artists could use the abstract forms they created to depict an event or a figure.
Further growth of Russian Constructivism was experienced through the exhibition of work that had the influence of abstract forms. The greatest influence of the Russian Constructivism period was in the year 1919 when Tatlin got an opportunity to exhibit the Monument for the Third International (Tatlin Tower). This monument was particularly unique having a spiral shape and developed with the Russian Revolution in mind (Honour & Fleming, 2009). During this period, there was a renewed interest in Constructivism and this led to the creation of the First Working Group of Constructivists (FWGC).
In the year1921 the consumerist department in the Soviet Union developed the New Economic Policy that was aimed at opening up more market opportunities for this growing country. Artists such as Rodchenko and Stepanova were among those recruited for the purpose of creating advertisements for the numerous co-operatives that were facing stiff competition from a variety of businesses. These constructivists used this seemingly unique artistic style to create outstanding and attractive adverts featuring the already common geometric shapes with bold bright colours. Typography and graphic designs were then adopted for the lettering and the result was a reaction they had anticipated. Most of the people enjoyed them and they were later adopted by most people in departmental stores in Moscow. From this point henceforth, there was no turning back as it was evident that there was a positive uproar on the acceptance of constructivism.
Transition from Artists to Studio
In as much as the Russian Constructivism fostered the use of traditional forms of high visual art in form of architecture, painting, and sculpture, it had a strong ambition to lead to mass productions. As artists explored applied and decorative art, their numbers kept growing reasonably thus leading to mass production. As a result, the Higher Technical Artistic Studios (VkhUTEMAS) began a training program on applied arts. This led to an awakening in the use of ceramics and textiles which were used by various artists to communicate a variety of messaged. A good example in this case is Ilya Chashnik who produced abstract planar forms using special ceramics (Fowler, 2006). Bolshevik_x0092_s regime had a lot of support from the October Revolution. This movement had developed a lot of hope for most constructivists and especially those that supported Futurism and Cubism. This had a major role to play in the transition from the simple artist direct to the studio.
VKhUTEMAS was an art school developed by Lenin with the intention to teach novice ideas that had been developed by constructivists. VKhUTEMAS (Higher State Artistic and Technical Workshops) commenced at almost the same time with the Bauhaus (another German Modernist art school). However, these two schools were later closed up by political figures; VKhUTEMAS by Stalin and the Bauhaus by the Nazis working under the regime of Hitler (Fowler, 2006).
Constructivism was characterized by non-objective art of geometrical shapes, typography and powerful contrasts of dark black and deep red colors. From this, Benus (2013 makes it very clear that constructivism is an art style whose commencement was geared towards the production of traditional forms of high art. However, there was a great need for mass fabrication during the period and this prompted numerous artists to explore the area of decorative and applied arts.
An important artist that portrays this concept is Varvara Stepanova who worked on ceramics. His work was highly unique having abstract planar forms, with stark repeated abstract patterns which were also found in most of the textile work. Similarly, Alexander Rodchenko and Eli Lissizky were hailed for outstanding work in propaganda posters, typography, and graphic design. Based on the influence of politics at the time, these two artists would pass their messages through art. Diagonal elements, stark planes of color and bold letters were common. Rodchenko is known for the series known as Black on Black series that represented the end of spirituality as an attack to the work done by Malevich titled White on White paintings. Some of these propaganda posters are responsible for the influence on the Destijl style that are used by contemporary artists.
Russian Constructivism had a deep-seated desire to express the aspects connected to modern life. This explains why the movement had an interest to demonstrate dynamism and creativity as a tool for re-inventing art. Russian Constructivism was focused on the production of art whose main function was to bring into being a form of social change that would rebuild the society from the perspective of a Utopian model (Benus, 2013). The whole idea of Russian Constructivism was to use real materials which would then be suspended in real space. This influence is in line with the principles of the Communist Russian regime. The communist principles were based on boldness and devoid of emotions; aspects which differed from Suprematism.
The various varieties of art including music, poetry, film, and architecture were transformed during the period of constructivism thus leading to their re-invention and that of the world. In other words, constructivism was a period where there was the building the new form of art. The period succumbed to the hostile Bolshevik regime that was mainly against revolutionary art and geometrical non-objective abstract forms. This led to the end of constructivism in mid 1920_x0092_s.
Impacts to other Systems in the 20th Century
The Bauhaus school was responsible for the propagation of constructivism as a lot of artists were employed in the school as lecturers. This is part of what led to the growth of constructivism and its propagation. Here, the teachings led to the adoption of the VkhuTEMAS method of teaching (Benus, 2013). These methods were later adopted by architects in the 1930_x0092_s and 1940_x0092_s, and even after the end of this century (Honour & Fleming, 2009). The propaganda posters produced by most artists during constructivism had a major influence in the De Stijl style that is employed in advertisements in the 20th century. During this time, the Dusseldorf Congress of International Productive Artists produced the _x0091_Tool of Progress_x0092_; a public declaration released together with Hans Richteer and Theo van Doesburg. These two artists were from the Dutch movement known as De Stijl which was also taken as a symbol for modernity as seen in the 20th century. There was the portrayal of art as an object as a result of the Russian avant-garde movement. This is why constructivism comes with the use of new materials which are supposed to highlight advances in industry and technology.
Stepanova made it very clear that there was need to move from designing simple clothing to focusing on functionality (Honour & Fleming, 2009). His was an idea based on the improvement of the textile industry in such a way that it would improve and standardise equality between men and women. Women clothing was highly sexualised with thin waists and high heels. From the view of Stepanova, this failed to meet the requirement of equality being propagated by constructivists. Immediately after the death of Lenin, Russia was under a lot of political problems and there was a lot of genocide. Since art was connected to political aspects, Russia decided not to open up a school of art. Instead, the country opened up a school that dealt with consumer goods and industrial equipment. The school focused on improvement of the quality of these goods through the use of artistic engineering methodology.
There are a number of varieties of constructivism that have an influence in the current scene in philosophy especially in places like Germany and Austria. The main influence is seen in the methodology and theoretical framework used in the study of culture and literature (Fowler, 2006). For instance, constructivism represents a non-homogenous area of epistemological framework. At the same time, constructivism today allows researchers to draw from autopoiesis as a theory of organisation and living, systems theo-ries, neurophenomenology, and cognitive science (Honour & Fleming, 2009). These are areas in literature that link it to cultureand applicable in literary and cultural studies.
Constructivism can be taken as a meta-theory that has developed to become concrete over several years and its influence is largely felt in the latter half of the 20th century. Constructivists emphasize on organisational, generative, and selective nature of understanding, perception and memory. In this sense, constructivists have an impact on the human_x0092_s ability to guid-ing thought and inquiries especially in complex aspects presented by philosophy. From the perspective of a constructivist, people are constructive agents that have the ability to perceive the phenome-non of interest or knowledge as one that is not received passively but built. This implies that the way people know, see, understand and even value knowledge is based on their desire to pursue the information. All this is evident through the way constructivists made abstract art that could be suspended in space. The only way to understand the meaning of the rhetoric behind the art was to seek for knowledge.
From the perspective of the existing constructivists such as Stepanova, knowledge is not always true especially through the depiction of objective reality. Instead, knowledge is brought out as one that responds to the experience of an individual. For instance, when it comes to cognition, constructivism suggests that one has to assume that knowledge is in the hands of an individual. By looking at some form of art pieces developed during this time, it is evident that knowledge on their interpretation was left to the bias of an individual. In this case, constructivists suggest that an individual is forced to construct knowledge based on what they knows and their experiences. This is the same approach taken by philosophers in the 20th century. The idea brought about by philosophers in the 20th century is that personal experiences are limited to the surrounding. As a result, they determine the extent to which an individual creates knowledge and perceives it in regard to different objects.
Knowledge is somehow connected to identity; another aspect that is of great significance in the world of constructivists, and that it affects the way people form individuality in the 20th century. From the world of constructivists, identities are produced from the environment _x0096_ which is made up of interaction, norms, cultures and institutions. All these aspects make up a community and many communities make up a state. From this standpoint, it is possible to comprehend why different states behave in a variety of ways. It is also possible to have inkling over the political behavior of different people as communal behavior affect a state both internally and externally. For instance, all the political happenings in Russia were impacted by culture and this was mainly a subject of culture. For this reason, it is possible to say that constructivism had a major impact in identities and the way people view different aspects in the 20th century.
Benus, B. (2013). Isotype: Design and Contexts 1925-71. London: Hyphen Press.
Fowler, A. (2006). Constructivist Art in Britain 1913_x0096_2005. Southampton: University of Southampton.
Honour, H. & Fleming, J. (2009). A World History of Art. 7th edn. London: Laurence King Publishing.

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