Russian Constructivism Artistic and Architectural Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2364 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Art  (general)


The largest peaks for the success of women artists developed in the pre-revolutionary period and during the Constructivist period of the 1920's. As Yablonskaya notes, during the late 1920's and early 1930's, women artists led two contrary developments, "one of an intimate and personal character, as with the art of Antonia Sofronova, and the other more publicly affirmative as with the work of Sarra Lebedeva and Vera Mukhina," (Yablonskaya, p. 12). The woman artist that had a significant influence on the Constructivist movement was Lyubov Papova.

Popova was an influential Russian painter and designer who was born into a wealthy family and trained as a teacher before beginning her artistic studies with Stanislav Zhukovsky and Konstantin Yuon. Inspired by Russian architecture, she developed a less naturalistic approach than most of her traditional counterparts. A more crucial influence was the first-hand knowledge of Cubism that she gained in Paris in the early 1920's. She studied at the Academie de la Palette, under the direction of Henri Le Fauconnier and Jean Metzinger, and according to Yablonskaya, her paintings of this time clearly display the influence of these artists. Many of her works lend themselves to the seriousness with which Popova applied Cubist analysis to the human figure and this can be seen for example in Female Nude (1913).

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Popova was also involved in the Revolution and became an active member of SVOMAS (Free State Studios), where she taught courses on the use of color. As Yablonskaya argues, the social climate of the Revolution demanded that artists break away from traditional forms and create of beautiful things (p. 113). During 1920, the height of the Constructionist movement, Popova worked at the Institute of Artist Culture and abandoned her practice of painting for the "production of things of material culture." For the rest of her career, Popova would focus on design work and her greatest contribution to the movement would be in stage design work.

Term Paper on Russian Constructivism Artistic and Architectural Assignment

The De Stijl and its Connections to Constructivism:

De Stijl "The Style" originated with a group of Dutch artists in Amsterdam in 1917. The artists responsible for the movement include Piet Mondrian, Theo van Doesburg, and Vilmos Huszar, the architect Jacobus Johannes Pieter Oud, and the poet A. Kok; other early associates of De Stijl were Bart van der Leck, Georges Vantongerloo, Jan Wils, and Robert van't Hoff. The members of this movement are considered to be masters of the abstract style who were seeking laws of equilibrium and harmony applicable both to art and to life.

One of De Stijl's most outstanding painters was Mondrian. Although influenced by his contact with Cubism in Paris before 1914, according to Overy (1991), Mondrian thought that it had fallen short of its goal by not having developed toward pure abstraction, or, as he put it, "the expression of pure plastics." In his search for an art of clarity and order that would also express his religious and philosophical beliefs, Mondrian eliminated all representational components, reducing painting to its elements: straight lines, plane surfaces, rectangles, and the primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) combined with neutrals (black, gray, and white). Van Doesburg, who shared Mondrian's austere principles, launched the group's periodical, De Stijl (1917-32), which outlined the theories of its members.

Similar to Constructivism, the De Stijl movement influenced painting, decorative arts, including furniture design, typography, and particularly architecture. The Worker's Housing Estate in Hoek van Holland (1924-27), designed by Oud, expresses the same clarity, austerity, and order found in a Mondrian painting. Gerrit Rietveld, another architect associated with De Stijl, also applied its stylistic principles in his work; the Schrder House in Utrecht (1924), for example, resembles a Mondrian painting in the simplicity of its facade and in its interior plan. (Overy, pp. 112-113).


The Constructivist movement has been closely associated with Avant-garde tendency in 20th-century painting, sculpture, photography, design and architecture, literature, theatre and film. Russian Constructivism sought to move beyond the autonomous art object, extending the formal language of abstract art into practical design work. It is clear that the concept of Russian Constructivism influenced the International Constructivism that defines a broader current in Western art. International Constructivists certainly were inspired by the Russian example, both artistically and politically. The term Constructivism has frequently been used since the 1920s in a looser fashion to evoke a continuing trend of geometric abstract art that is constructed from autonomous visual elements such as lines and planes, and characterized by such qualities as precision, impersonality, a clear formal order, simplicity and economy of organization and the use of contemporary materials such as plastic and metal.

Works Cited

Curotto, Alberto. Malevich. Great Modern Masters. New York: Harry N. Abrams Publishers, 1995.

Dabrowski, Magdalena, Dickerman, Leah & Galassi, Peter. Aleksandr Rodchenko. New York: The Modern Museum of Art, 1998.

Gray, Camilla. The Russian Experiment in Art 1863-1922. Revised by Marian Burleigh-Motley. London: Thames and Hudson, 1986.

Overy, Paul. De Stijl. London: Thames & Hudson, 1991.

Van Doesburg, Theo. On European Architecture. Berlin: Birkhauser Verlag, 1986.

Watten, Barrett. The Constructivist Moment: From material text to cultural poetics. New Haven, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2003.

Yakunchikova, Maria. Women Artists of Russia's New Age: 1900-1935. London:… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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