Constructivism was an art and architectural movement that began in Russia in the early 20th Century. Constructivism was similar in many ways to other contemporary movements of the time, such as Cubism and Futurism, with their strong, modern visuals. However, what made Constructivism unique was its use of modern techniques, which was to promote art for mass production and consumption, and to further help to modernize society. The graphic design of this movement reflects these ideas; it is dynamic and complex, with shapes and images inspired and taken from modern machinery or architecture.
Alexander Rodchenko, Books! poster (1924)
Shapes within the works were created not to be visually pleasing or to promote or illustrate the artist's personal message, or to represent the current state of the world, but to make an analysis of modern materials and artworks which could lead to the design of functional objects. The feel and aesthetic of an artwork would be decided by the materials used. The most important message of Constructivism was a want to illustrate or show the experience of modern life - its dynamism, the way it shows new ideas and understanding of space. But what was also important was the feeling a need to create a new form of art which better reflected the democracy and modernization of the Russian Revolution. Constructivists wanted to be part of the construction of a new society.
El Lissitzky, For the Voice, 1923
Notable Constructivist Designers
Lissitzky was born in November 1890 in Russia. He was a Jewish-Russian artist, graphic designer and typographer, and architect. He began his career making Yiddish children’s books before moving on to the Avant Garde art scene of Russia. He worked as the Russian cultural ambassador to Weimar Germany, influencing important artists of the Bauhaus and De Stijl movements. He became most well known for his typography and book design.
El Lissitzky, Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge, 1920
El Lissitzky, Proun 99, 1924
Book cover by Lissitzky, 1922
Rodchenko was one of the founders of the Russian constructivist movement. He was very much influenced by the Cubist and Futurist movements, and desired to bring similar aesthetic and nationalist ideas to his own country. Rodchenko was Director of the Museum Bureau and Purchasing Fund by the Bolshevik Government in 1920, which was an organization that benefitted art schools and museums. He was secretary of the Moscow Artists' Union and later created the Fine Arts Division of the People's Commissariat for Education, and, along with others, founded the Institute for Artistic Culture.
Alexander Rodchenko, Social Kunst 8 - Photomontage, 1932
Alexander Rodchenko, Cover of the book "About That" by Vladimir Mayakovski, 1923