Constructivism: art, architecture and social change
Constructivism burned brightly for just 15 years as the artistic response to the Russian Revolution. Its geometrical purity and dynamism expressed the optimism of a period when the future could be planned for the first time. Constructivist architects such as Tatlin designed experimental structures for the new society on a vast scale, while designers and artists created bold graphics and photography to reflect the political messages of the revolution.
With the end of the revolutionary period in 1932, Constructivism was snuffed out by Stalin who imposed Social Realism with a clampdown on social and artistic dissent. But perhaps it was always utopian for artists to think that they could contribute to the revolution using set squares and paint brushes.
Today many artists are self-consciously ‘political’, but what does Constructivism tell us about the relationship between art and politics? Using words and images, architect Theo Dounas will reflect on the impact of Constructivism 100 years ago, and ask what it would take to create a new revolutionary style for today.