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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

Uruguayan, 20th century, male.

Active also active in the USA.

Born 1919.

Painter.

Neo-Constructivism.

Atelier Torres García.

A student of Torres García, Alpuy lived in New York for several years, which was undoubtedly what enabled him to combine a free representational style with a more rigorously Constructivist composition. He usually worked on wooden boards that he painted and shaped according to his imagination. His figures are positioned according to Constructivist principles....

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

Venezuelan, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in France.

Born 6 March 1947.

Painter.

Neo-Constructivism.

Luis Arnal studied at the school of fine arts in Caracas and then in Paris at the École Pratique des Hautes Études and the University in Paris. He exhibits mainly in Venezuela. Arnal is a self-declared Constructivist and this is borne out in the technical rigour of his pieces and the phenomenological games he plays with contrasting, bright colours. He uses almost exclusively curves and counter-curves....

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

Nelly Perazzo

Argentine movement of the 1940s based in Buenos Aires and led by Gyula Košice and the Uruguayan artists Carmelo Arden Quin (b 1913) and Rhod Rothfuss (b 1920). Together with Joaquín Torres García and the Argentine poet Edgar Bayley (b 1919), they were responsible for the publication in early 1944 of a single issue of a magazine, Arturo, which heralded the development of the Constructivist movement in Argentina, stressing the importance of pure invention and of interdisciplinary links. Tomás Maldonado, who designed the cover, and Lidy Prati (b 1921), who was responsible for most of the vignettes, soon dissociated themselves from their colleagues to help set up the Asociación arte concreto invención; the editorial content of the magazine, however, suggested a coherent aesthetic that was also promoted in booklets published by Košice and Bayley in 1945 and in two exhibitions, Art Concret Invention...

Article

Argentine group of artists formed in 1952 and active until 1954. It was founded on the initiative of the art critic Aldo Pellegrini (1903–1975) as a union of Constructivist painters belonging to the Asociación arte concreto invención—Tomás Maldonado, Alfredo Hlito, Lidy Prati (1921–2008), Ennio Iommi, and Claudio Girola (1923–1994)—and four independent semi-abstract artists: José Antonio Fernández Muro, Sarah Grilo, Miguel Ocampo, and Hans Aebi (1923–1985). Pellegrini’s main concern was with the quality of the artists’ work rather than with a shared program. They were the first abstract artists in Argentina to exhibit together as a group abroad: in 1953 they showed both at the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio de Janeiro and at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

Pelligrini was pleased with the genuine interaction within the group. The work of the independent artists became more rigorous and economical, inclining progressively toward geometric abstraction, and their lack of dogmatism in turn led the Constructivists to adopt a more flexible approach. The group disbanded on Maldonado’s move to Germany in ...

Article

Arturo  

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

Argentine group formed in November 1945 by Tomás Maldonado and other Constructivist artists and active until c. 1964. Its other original members were Lidy Prati (b 1921), Alfredo Hlito, Manuel Espinosa, Raúl Lozza (b 1911), Alberto Molenberg (b 1921), Ennio Iommi, Claudio Girola (b 1923), Jorge Souza (b 1919), Primaldo Mónaco (b 1921), Oscar Núñez (b 1919), Antonio Caraduje (b 1920) and the poet Edgar Bayley (b 1919). Maldonado and Prati were prominent among the artists involved in the publication of the single issue of the magazine Arturo in early 1944, in which the image–invention was proposed as an alternative to representational, naturalistic or symbolic imagery, but they did not take part in two exhibitions of associated artists in 1945 that led to the establishment of Arte Madí. In fact, their central role in setting up the Asociación Arte Concreto Invención was a way of declaring their independence from the other group....

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; ...