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Article

Ewa Mikina

[Pol. artysci rewolucyjni: ‘revolutionary artists’]

Polish group of avant-garde artists that flourished between 1929 and 1936. Its members were the sculptor Katarzyna Kobro, the painters Władysław Strzemiński and Henryk Stażewski, and the poets J. Brzękowski and J. Przyboś. It was founded by Strzemiński after he, Kobro and Stażewski left the Praesens group. The group’s programme chiefly reflected the views of Strzemiński. In two leaflets entitled Kommunikaty a.r. (‘a.r. bulletins’) the group declared itself in favour of a ‘laboratory’ version of Constructivism and an avant-garde art that influenced social life in an indirect and gradual manner. It opposed the politicization and popularization of art, which it regarded as a debasement of artistic expression, but the group also believed that rigorous, formal discipline, the organic construction of a work, its coherence, effectiveness and economy of means, made art somewhat synthetic or contrived. From 1933 the group’s announcements regarding its programme appeared in the Łódź art magazine Forma...

Article

John Milner

[Rus. agitatsionnaya propaganda: ‘agitational propaganda’]

Russian acronym in use shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 for art applied to political and agitational ends. The prefix agit- was also applied to objects decorated or designed for this purpose, hence agitpoyezd (‘agit-train’) and agitparokhod (‘agit-boat’), decorated transport carrying propaganda to the war-front. Agitprop was not a stylistic term; it applied to various forms as many poets, painters and theatre designers became interested in agitational art. They derived new styles and techniques for it from Futurism, Suprematism and Constructivism.

The characteristics of the new art forms were defined as public, political and communal in purpose and execution. The poet Mayakovsky called for artists to abandon their studios and make the streets their brushes and the squares their palettes. Mass spectacular theatre provided vigorous examples of agitprop either by re-enacting recent events or by providing pageants of the progress of Communism. In 1920, for example, the theatre director ...

Article

Russian, 20th century, female.

Painter, draughtswoman.

Constructivism.

Anna Akhtyrko was a student of Aleksandr Rodchenko and a member of his Constructivist group , set up in April-May 1921 in Vkhutemas. Her unusual, modest works could be seen at the exhibition The Russian Avant-Garde and Abstract American Artists...

Article

British, 20th century, male.

Born 1933, in Worcester; died 1999.

Painter.

Constructivism.

Systems Group.

Richard Allen began his studies at the Shropshire Institute of Agriculture, but later decided to become an artist and in 1957 joined Bath Academy of Art at Corsham. In 1960 he won a government scholarship to study mosaics at Ravenna in Italy. In ...

Article

Russian, 20th century, male.

Active also active throughout Europe.

Born 1894 or 1895, in Kherson; died 12 November 1982, in Paris.

Painter. Stage sets.

Constructivism.

Mikhail Andreenko studied at the Imperial School of Fine Art in St Petersburg. He devoted himself very early on to stage sets, first in Russia and then in various other European countries. He also painted abstract geometrical paintings from a very general design, with emphatically determined plans and signs. In 1915, at the age of 15 or 16, he participated at the exhibition ...

Article

Russian, 20th century, male.

Born 1897, in Kozliv.

Painter. Figures, nudes.

In the 1920s, Sergei Arkhipov was influenced by Suprematism, and then by Constructivism. In 1938, he became a member of the Union of Artists. His works are housed in the most important Russian museums....

Article

German, 20th century, male.

Born 1900, in Remscheid; died 1988, in The Hague.

Painter, engraver.

Neo-Constructivism.

Stupid group, Gruppe Progressiver Künstler (Progressive Art Group).

Gerd Arntz studied at the art academy in Düsseldorf and was part of the Stupid group in Cologne from 1920, and a friend of Yankel Adler. After ...

Article

Greta Stroeh

[Jean] (Peter Wilhelm)

(b Strassburg, Germany [now Strasbourg, France], Sept 16, 1886; d Basle, Switzerland, June 7, 1966).

French sculptor, painter, collagist, printmaker, and poet of German birth. The son of a German father and French Alsatian mother, he developed a cosmopolitan outlook from an early age and as a mature artist maintained close contact with the avant-garde throughout Europe. He was a pioneer of abstract art and one of the founders of Dada in Zurich, but he also participated actively in both Surrealism and Constructivism. While he prefigured junk art and the Fluxus movement in his incorporation of waste material, it was through his investigation of biomorphism and of chance and accident that he proved especially influential on later 20th-century art in liberating unconscious creative forces.

Following a brief period at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Strasbourg (1900–01), Arp received instruction from 1901 from a friend and neighbour, the painter and printmaker Georges Ritleng (1875–1972). He then attended the Kunstschule in Weimar (1904–7) and the Académie Julian in Paris (...

Article

Jeremy Howard

(Ignat&’yevich)

(b Wylkowyszki" country="Poland [now Vilkaviškis, Lithuania], June 3, 1896; d Moscow, June 14, 1940).

Russian theorist and critic . Having studied physics and mathematics at the University of Petrograd (now St Petersburg), he became a member of Proletkul’t in 1918 and in 1921 joined the Moscow Inkhuk and Russian Academy of Artistic Sciences. Together with other supporters of industrial design such as Osip Brik, Boris Kushner, Lyubov’ Popova and Nikolay Tarabukin, he influenced the new identification of Inkhuk with the Production art movement (see Constructivism, §1). He was one of the founders of LEF (Levyy Front Iskusstv: Left Front of the Arts), which promoted a utilitarian and organizational notion of art and provided a revolutionary platform for the Constructivists and Formalists. He was a contributor to the LEF art journals in the 1920s, writing on the theatre, Constructivism and Production art. Constructivism was regarded as no more than a transitional stage on the path to Production art, which involved the essential restructuring of life. He promoted the concept of ‘engineer–constructor’ as the sole instigator of creative work in the new Soviet society. Art was to be the product of skilled craftsmanship rather than an expression of the artist’s psyche: like other forms of technology it was part of society’s material culture. From ...

Article

Belgian, 20th century, male.

Born 1940, in Berchem (Antwerp).

Painter, sculptor, screen printer.

Neo-Constructivism.

Guy Baekelmans was briefly a member of the Centre International d'Art Constructif (International Centre of Constructive Art), and saw Constructivism as a framework within which he could develop his own spiritual aspirations. His three-dimensional works, in which he employs accents of light, are dynamic in character. Following visits to Japan, his paintings became more meditative, while the use of computers gave him new perspectives....

Article

Swedish, 20th century, male.

Born 1911, in Halmstad; died 1981.

Painter, sculptor.

Neo-Constructivism.

Olle Baertling settled in Stockholm in 1928 and started painting in 1938. At the beginning of his career he was an Expressionist, but then began to paint portraits under the influence of Matisse. He subsequently studied under André Lothe and Léger in Paris in ...

Article

Stephen Bann

(b Middelburg, Zeeland, Nov 1, 1925; d Amsterdam, June 29, 1991).

Dutch artist . He attended the Amsterdam Institute of Design (1943–5) and initially painted in a neo-realist manner. In 1950 he began to produce paintings that were directly reminiscent of the Cubists and the Dutch De Stijl group. Like his contemporaries Victor Pasmore and Mary Martin, Baljeu rapidly moved towards the relief construction as his favoured mode of expression. Using both opaque and transparent coloured materials, he built up complex structures from basic orthogonal forms. He created free-standing sculptures based on the same constructional logic. From the late 1950s Baljeu extended his activities into a wide variety of environmental and architectural projects, such as Synthetic Construction WII (1957; Eindhoven, Stedel. Van Abbemus.)

Baljeu’s aim was not only to produce work in the De Stijl tradition, but also to revive the debate about art in its social and intellectual context, which had characterized the group activity of De Stijl in the 1920s. After he had established contact with the American artist and theorist Charles Biederman in the late 1950s, he founded the magazine ...

Article

Angelika Steinmetz and Gordon Campbell

(b 1896; d 1965).

German potter who after an early career as a sculptor established a pottery workshop in Kandern. Initially he made pottery statuettes, and then cubist vases. In the 1940s he became interested in East Asian (especially Japanese) glazes, and c. 1950 became the first German potter to produce asymmetrical work with experimental viscous glazes and broken, irregular surface textures....

Article

Anna Szinyei Merse

(b Katona [now Ketina, Romania], Jan 14, 1900; d Budapest, April 2, 1988).

Hungarian painter, graphic artist, mosaic designer and teacher . He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest, from 1919 to 1924. Towards the end of the 1920s he spent some time in Paris and Italy on a scholarship. He joined the Szentendre colony in 1929, and he became the most influential practitioner of Hungarian Constructivism. He exhibited widely from 1924 onwards and won many awards.

Barcsay’s work developed from the heavily contoured Working Girl (1928; Budapest, N.G.) and emphatically structured landscapes (e.g. Hilly Landscape, 1934; Budapest, N.G.) to a strict Constructivism after 1945. In his landscapes and urban scenes of 1945–7 he abandoned perspective drawing and placed his whitewashed gable-walls on a plainly structured skeleton. Human figures are reduced to mere signs in the homogeneous space. Monumental works began with his design of 1949 for a huge mosaic (realized 1963) in the Assembly Hall of Miskolc University. Another huge mosaic (3×11 m; ...

Article

Catherine Cooke

(Osipovich)

(b Moscow, Jan 29, 1904; d Moscow, Nov 8, 1976).

Russian architect and teacher . He studied (1920–26) in the Vkhutemas, Moscow, and joined the Constructivist group OSA. His joint diploma project with M. I. Sinyavsky (1895–1979) for a vast administrative and market complex was formally and structurally bold, and its widespread publication brought him to public attention. Barshch’s first notable building was the Moscow Planetarium (1928; with Sinyavsky), the result of a competition. Conceived as an anti-religious ‘theatre of science’ in central Moscow, it established the architects in the canon of international Modernism. Thereafter Barshch worked in Moisey Ginzburg’s housing research team for the Construction Committee (Stroikom) of the Russian Republic. He also collaborated on an uncompromisingly bold communal housing complex for a thousand people (1929; with V. Vladimirov; 1898–1942) and a low-density design (1929) for the new city of Magnitogorsk, with the ‘disurbanist’ ideologue M. A. Okhitovich (1896–1937), which crowned an early career at the centre of the innovative avant-garde. In the 1930s Barshch worked under the classicist ...

Article

French, 20th century, male.

Born 17 August 1932, in Poyanne (Landes).

Sculptor, draughtsman. Monuments, jewels.

Neo-Constructivism.

Vincent Batbedat settled in Paris in 1950 and studied at the École Spéciale d'Architecture and then at the École des Beaux-Arts while attending the Académie Julian. In this period he concentrated on sculpture. In ...

Article

Belgian, 20th century, male.

Born 1896, in Liège; died 1995.

Painter, collage artist, watercolourist, illustrator, decorative designer, designer.

Futurism, Constructivism.

Groupe 7 Arts.

Baugniet attended the art academy in Brussels where he studied under the Belgian Symbolist painter Jean Delville. He married the dancer and painter Akarova (Marguerite Acarin). His early paintings were figurative, and he was then influenced by French Cubism and international Constructivism. In 1922, Baugniet became a member of the Belgian group ...

Article

Bauhaus  

Rainer K. Wick

[Bauhaus Berlin; Bauhaus Dessau, Hochschule für Gestaltung; Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar]

German school of art, design and architecture, founded by Walter Gropius. It was active in Weimar from 1919 to 1925, in Dessau from 1925 to 1932 and in Berlin from 1932 to 1933, when it was closed down by the Nazi authorities. The Bauhaus’s name referred to the medieval Bauhütten or masons’ lodges. The school re-established workshop training, as opposed to impractical academic studio education. Its contribution to the development of Functionalism in architecture was widely influential. It exemplified the contemporary desire to form unified academies incorporating art colleges, colleges of arts and crafts and schools of architecture, thus promoting a closer cooperation between the practice of ‘fine’ and ‘applied’ art and architecture. The origins of the school lay in attempts in the 19th and early 20th centuries to re-establish the bond between artistic creativity and manufacturing that had been broken by the Industrial Revolution. According to Walter Gropius in ...

Article

Swiss, 20th century, male.

Born 3 May 1886, in Basel; died 9 October 1942.

Painter, sculptor.

Dadaism, Neo-Constructivism.

Groups: Artistes Radicaux, Das Neue Leben.

From 1917, Baumann exhibited at the Galerie Dada in Zurich and in 1918 he became a member of the group The New Life...

Article

Czechoslovak, 20th century, male.

Born 30 August 1930, in Preslany.

Sculptor.

Stefan Beloharadsky first undertook technical studies before entering the school of fine arts in Bratislava. His work was inspired by Constructivism, and placed geometrical forms in space with both rigour and elegance. He had a solo exhibition of his work in Cracow in ...