Constructivism first emerged as an artistic practice in the 1920s after the Russian revolution. The diverse experiences of the revolution ensured the development of constructivism due to the experience is agitation, understanding artist affairs and providing a revolutionary ideology which would be used to charge their artwork. constructivism was initially concerned with three dimensional structures. However, during the civil war constructivist artist created work such as, agitational posters which became one of the dominant art forms of constructivism for many constructivists.
Gustav Klutsis was one of the pioneers of Soviet agitprop graphic design, particularly prominent for his revolutionary use of the medium of photomontage to create political posters, book designs, newspaper and magazine illustrations. One of his works that I am interested in his first photocollage Dynamic City, where photography was used as an element of construction and illustration. In 1920 Klutsis joined the Communist party; his works around this time set out to change the logic of political thought and propaganda into Suprematism form, often using documentary images of Lenin, Trotsky, and eventually Stalin in his radical poster designs.
Gustav Klutsis, 'The Dynamic city' (1919)
Within this piece the artist has used a series of rectangular and cuboid shapes which jut out from a diagonal and break from the edges of the background circle which is central within the picture plane. klutsis' use of photographs creates a static and isolated shot, which is brought to life by the protusions of what appears to be three dimentional elements, such as buildings. Photomontaging allows the viewer to visualize unfolding themes of the given subject, creating a connection between political slogans and creating politically chanrged works. The artist has used photographs of American skyscrapers which are the rectangular shapes that the viewer, on closer inspection, can see the detail and the multitude of windows, creating the composition of his dynamic city. He also added phtotographs of workmen at the ends of the buildings. The symbolism of this deliberate placement suggests to the viewer that this is a flying city with its own gravity, which enables the men to stand upsidedown. Klutsis' style was to mix the familiar with the seemingly impossible to make the unfamiliar less improbable.
Another artist I am interested in is Alexander Rodchenko. He was brought up in Kazan and attended the Art school there where he was heavily influenced by art nouveau and Beardsly. in 1914 he attended futurist meetings in Kazan, he then moved to Moscow and started in a graphics department which didn't last long due to his dis engangement witht the teaching. between 1915-16 he became aquainted with the moscow avant garde, contributing to contemporary painting exhibitions and cubist collages. In 1920 he became a co-founder of the First Working Group of Constructivists.
Alexander Rodchenko, 'Crisis' (1923)
Rodchenko has also used photomontage for this piece which is characterised by the juxtaposing of images. Within this piece the viewer can see people falling from two aeroplanes onto a deteriorating urban landscape. The political and social connotations evident within this piece was often very overt within this artists work, for him advertising was a means of directly engaging in agiprop; "In every military victory, in every economic success 9/10 is the result of the skill and power of our agitation. Advertising is industrial, commercial agitation." It is clear that Rodchenko believed that his work was fulfilling its purpose too spread the propaganda through the country.
Overall, comparing these two posters I can see many similarities in terms or colour palette and the use of shapes overlapping one another to created a distorted image. However, I also think that in term of their approach to propaganda each artist uses a different technique. For example, Rochenko is much more obvious with his agitation and created quite a graphic piece as the figures are seen falling to their death into a state of unrest. Where as, Klutsis advocates the rejection of painting and was actively involved in making production art, such as multimedia agitprop kiosks to be installed on the streets of Moscow, integrating radio-orators, film screens, and newsprint displays. Similarly though both artists used photo montaging which facilitated a new method for producing essentially militant posters. It is a characteristic feature that the poster surface is articulated and defined by the political content of the presented materials rather than by aesthetic quality.
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Second year Illustration student at Cumbria University.