I knew absolutely nothing about “Constructivism” when I first took this art quiz. As far as I can recall, I’d never once heard the term in relation to art. I don’t remember now whether or not I guessed correctly on the quiz — probably not — but now that I’ve learned a bit more, the right answer seems obvious.
Constructivism was an art movement associated with Soviet socialism, the Bolsheviks, and the Russian avant-garde. I’m familiar enough with Russian history to immediately see the connection with 1913, a pivotal year in the Russian Empire.
But let’s move on from history and look at art, shall we? Of course, it is sometimes difficult to separate the two, and that’s very much the case with constructivism. According to Wikipedia, constructivism was an early twentieth-century art movement founded by Vladimir Tatlin and Alexander Rodchenko. The date given, however, is 1915.
I’m not sure we can ever be too specific about when and how an “art movement” begins and ends, and because of the political ties between constructivism and events taking place in Russia, it’s enough for us, I think, to see the connections and understand some of the “art thinking” going on at that time.
Constructivism was a means of reflecting a modern, industrialized society. It dealt with how materials were assembled — constructed — rather than with beauty or style. Initially constructivism in art focused on three-dimensional works but later expanded to include two-dimensional illustrations, many of which were designed as social propaganda. The constructivist movement also influenced architecture, photography, and even film-making.
There is much to be learned about constructivism and its role in revolutionary Russia. In addition to the Wikipedia entry for constructivism, you’ll find a wealth of excellent information at the following sites:
Another interesting source is the Victoria and Albert Museum which featured an exhibit on the Russian avant-garde theatre, titled War Revolution and Design 1913-1933. Although the exhibit is closed, the notes remain online. The image above is taken from that site.
I’ve always had an interest in Russian history, and learning now about the ties between revolutionary thought and the world of art has piqued my interest. I’m continuing to browse and finding more articles of interest, such as this opinion piece from the New York Times: For Russian Artists in 1917, Art Was The Thing, Not Revolution. This editorial discusses another exhibit — this one held in Moscow in 2017.
Wassily Kandinsky’s work, Troubled (1917), was part of that exhibit.
I’ll also be on the lookout for several books that have been written about Russia’s “revolutionary art”. These titles are hard to find and quite expensive — at least at Amazon.
For me, this “art quiz” question has been one more learning opportunity. I’ve enjoyed it, and I hope you’ve found it informative and interesting.