• Influential Art Movements

  • Constructivism

  • The Change
    When Vladimir Tatlin helped begin constructivism around 1915, the future was coming fast. World War I raged in Europe, stripping the idealism from a previous generation’s dream of the new liberal order. Industrial production was on the march, driving peasants from their ancestral lands into smoke-choked cities and upending society. And in this chaos, revolution brewed. By 1917, revolution came not once but twice to Russia. First in February, when a hodgepodge of different anti-Tsarist political factions took power, and again in October, when the Bolshevik party won control. As communists struggled to create a new form of society, artists responded with new forms of art. Perhaps the most influential of these was constructivism.

  • Constructivism broke down visual designs into simple, abstract forms. These were meant to communicate ideas to the masses — free from academic concepts or bourgeois manipulation. Instead, these simple yet striking designs would make clear statements to inform the workers and help build the new society.

    The most proinent features of Constructivism are a celebration of modern industry, use of industrial materials, simples abstract forms, and austere presentation. Constructivists saw socialism as a way to turn the horrors of industrial production into wonders.

  • With the working class in control, the fruits of mass production could be enjoyed by all. For this reason, their work often celebrated modern industry. A major part of this celebration was the use of industrial material for the creation of art. Rather than seeing the two worlds as separate, the constructivists used art to reimagine the material. One of the most influential and compelling features of constructivism is its use of simple, abstract forms and at the time, this new style of graphic design was highly unique, daring, and even revolutionary. Early Soviet propaganda often used the constructivist style to convey information without weighing down the eye, and it appeared progressive and truly new.

“The influence of my art is expressed in the movement of the Constructivists, of which I am the founder." - Vladimir Tatlin

  • Mayakovsky's Pro Eto cover by Alexander Rodchenko, 1923

  • Let's Fulfill the Plan of Great Works by Gustav Klutsis, 1930

  • Konstruktivizm by Aleksei Gan, 1922

  • Above all, constructivism used an austere presentation. It disliked what it considered “bourgeois subjectivity” and preferred an objective look. Rather than trying to create an overly emotional response, the constructivists were interested in communicating clear information, albeit in an aesthetically striking way.

  • Influence of Constructivism
    Through the 1920’s, constructivism in the Soviet Union ended, with socialist realism winning out as the preferred artistic style. But by that point, the striking constructivist designs had already charmed the world, and the style was taken up by designers in the West. Ironically, the style that was created to help bring about a workers paradise ended up being used to promote the products of capitalist enterprises.

  • After World War II, Dutch and German “zero groups” formed to create highly simplified work in direct conversation with constructivist styles. And by the mid-50’s, the Swiss style (or International Style) embraced the values of objective presentation and simple, abstract forms. Today, graphic design owes a great debt to this style and the artists who pioneered it. It’s commitment to clarity and strong presentation has remade the visual culture of our world.

  • Influential Art Movements

  • Bauhaus

  • New Typography

  • Constructivism