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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

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

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

Hans Frei

(b Winterthur, Dec 22, 1908; d Zurich, Dec 9, 1994).

Swiss architect, sculptor, painter, industrial designer, graphic designer and writer. He attended silversmithing classes at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich from 1924 to 1927. Then, inspired by the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (1925), Paris, by the works of Le Corbusier and by a competition entry (1927) for the Palace of the League of Nations, Geneva, by Hannes Meyer and Hans Wittwer (1894–1952), he decided to become an architect and enrolled in the Bauhaus, Dessau, in 1927. He studied there for two years as a pupil of Josef Albers, László Moholy-Nagy, Paul Klee and Vasily Kandinsky, mainly in the field of ‘free art’. In 1929 he returned to Zurich. After working on graphic designs for the few modern buildings being constructed, he built his first work, his own house and studio (1932–3) in Zurich-Höngg; although this adheres to the principles of the new architecture, it retains echoes of the traditional, for example in the gently sloping saddle roof....

Article

Mark Allen Svede

[EKR; Est. Eesti Kunstnikkude Rūhm.]

Estonian group of painters and sculptors active from 1923 to c. 1930. The group continued the progressive internationalist orientation of their predecessors in the Young Estonia movement and united a new generation of painters committed to Cubist experimentation. The group was founded in Tartu by Eduard Ole (b 1898) and Friedrich Hist (1900–41), joined by Felix Randel (1901–77, named Johansen until 1936). Their work, like that of much of their colleagues, was primarily distinguished by modest geometricized abstraction and decorative colourism suggested by Synthetic Cubism, rather than by explorations of simultaneity, collage etc. It also often displayed strong characteristics of Neue Sachlichkeit and Purism. The earliest Estonian practitioners of Cubism were among the group’s members: Jaan Vahtra (1882–1947) and Hist, who from 1921 studied in Latvia, where he kept company with the modernists of the Riga Artists’ group. In 1924 EKR exhibited in Tartu and Tallinn with the Latvians, by which time membership had grown with the critical additions of ...

Article

Colin C. Sanderson

[Pevzner, Naum (Borisovich)]

(b Klimovichi, Belarus, Aug 5, 1890; d Waterbury, CT, Aug 23, 1977).

American sculptor of Belorussian birth. He was brought up in the Russian town of Bryansk, where his father owned a metallurgy business. Early paintings display his romantic and literary spirit, for example Self-portrait (c. 1907–10; artist’s family priv. col., see 1986 exh. cat., pl. 128), but in 1910 he went to the University of Munich to study medical and scientific subjects (1910–12), then philosophy and history of art (1912–14). The lectures of Heinrich Wölfflin and the writings of Henri Bergson were significant influences on him at this time. Gabo also studied engineering at the Technische Hochschule, Munich (1912–14), where there was a large collection of mathematical models. During World War I he took refuge in Norway (1914–17) and started working with his ‘stereometric method’ of construction, one of several techniques he adopted from such models, and through which he made a significant contribution to the development of the language of ...

Article

Adrian Lewis

(b London, April 23, 1930).

English painter and sculptor. He studied at St Martin’s School of Art (1947–9) and at the Central School of Art (1949–51), where he came into contact with the Constructivist tradition of abstraction. At this time he was friends with Victor Pasmore, Adrian Heath (b 1920) and Kenneth and Mary Martin, and soon after he began corresponding with Charles Biederman, Max Bill and Marcel Duchamp.

Hill incorporated relief elements into his paintings of the early 1950s, such as Progression of Rectangles (plastic on board, 1954; Adrian Flowers priv. col, see 1983 exh. cat., p. 19), and from 1954 made reliefs that were asymmetrical and orthogonal in form, such as Relief Construction (plastic and aluminium on enamelled stove back, 1959; priv. col., see 1983 exh. cat., p. 37), composed of parallel planes of plastic or metal sheet with elements of L-shaped aluminium. His concern with such materials and with mathematical systems and shallow physical depth led him to abandon painting in ...

Article

Yasuyoshi Saito

(b Kyoto, March 27, 1911; d Tokyo, April 13, 2001).

Japanese sculptor. He experimented with Constructivist sculpture in 1927 under the influence of such avant-garde sculptors as Tomoyoshi Murayama (1901–77). In 1928 he entered the sculpture department of the Higher Technical College in Tokyo; in 1929 he was accepted into the Nika-Ten exhibition and left college. At the Nikakai (Second Division Association) he studied under sculptor Yūzō Fujikawa (1883–1935). During World War II he stopped sculpting and learnt French and Latin. In 1950 he became a professor at the City College of Art in Kyoto, holding the post until 1974. From 1954 he began making sculptures from welded steel, creating such works as Five Squares and Five Rectangles (steel, 770 mm, 1955; Tokyo, Met. A. Mus.). In 1957 he exhibited in the fourth São Paulo Biennale. In 1963 he was awarded the sixth Takamura Kōtarō prize. In the same year an exhibition of his work was held at the Museum of Modern Art in Kamakura. In ...

Article

Nelly Perazzo

(b Rosario, March 20, 1926).

Argentine sculptor. His father was a sculptor, and Iommi studied in his father’s workshop and attended metalwork courses. He was a founder-member of the Asociación Arte Concreto Invención and is one of the most representative Constructivist sculptors in Argentina. In 1954 he created Continual Forms (white concrete, 2.0×0.8×1.2 m), a sculpture for a house in La Plata designed by Le Corbusier. His highly formal work was characterized at first by an economy of means, rigorous logic and dynamic rhythms and tensions, with an intelligible and rational structure of form that was optimistic in tone. It was with such works that he won a gold medal in Brussels at the Exposition Universelle et Internationale in 1958, took part in the exhibition Concret Art at the Kunsthaus, Zurich, in 1958, and participated hors concours in the São Paulo Biennale in 1961 and Venice Biennale in 1964.

Iommi completely changed direction in 1977...

Article

[Klutsis, Gustav (Gustavovich)]

(b Rŭjiena, Latvia, Jan 4, 1895; d Siberia, 1944).

Latvian painter, sculptor, graphic artist, designer and teacher, active in Russia. He was an important exponent of Russian Constructivism. He studied in Riga and Petrograd (now St Petersburg), but in the 1917 October Revolution joined the Latvian Rifle Regiment to defend the Bolshevik government; his sketches of Lenin and his fellow soldiers show Cubist influence. In 1918 he designed posters and decorations for the May Day celebrations and he entered the Free Art Studios (Svomas) in Moscow, where he studied with Malevich and Antoine Pevsner. Dynamic City (1919; Athens, George Costakis priv. col., see Rudenstine, no. 339) illustrates his adoption of the Suprematist style. In 1920 Klucis exhibited with Pevsner and Naum Gabo on Tver’skoy Boulevard in Moscow; in the same year Klucis joined the Communist Party. In 1920–21 he started experimenting with materials, making constructions from wood and paper that combined the geometry of Suprematism with a more Constructivist concern with actual volumes in space. In ...

Article

Ewa Mikina

(b Moscow, Jan 26, 1898; d Łódź, Feb 21, 1951).

Polish sculptor of Latvian origin. She studied at the School of Painting, Sculpture and Drawing, the second Free Workshops (Svomas), Moscow, 1917–20. In 1920 she moved to Smolensk, and in 1921 she married Władysław Strzemiński. In 1920–22 she was associated with the Vitebsk-based group Unovis. She lived in Poland from 1924, and she belonged to all the Polish Constructivist groups in succession: Block, Praesens, a.r., as well as to the international group Abstraction–Création. All works cited in this article are in the Museum of Art, Łódź. Her earliest pieces are Cubist nude studies. Hanging Constructions (1921–2) are Suprematist kinetic forms suspended in space, called ‘aerostats’, in which tensions in the materials provide movement and vibration. Abstract Sculptures (c. 1924) are multi-element vertical compositions, flat forms with flowing contours and composed in space defined by the cylinder of the base. The series of Spatial Compositions and ...

Article

Jorge Glusberg

[Fallik, Fernando ]

(b Košice, Czechoslovakia [now Slovak Republic], 1924).

Argentine sculptor, theorist and poet of Slovak birth. A resident of Argentina from 1928, he studied at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes ‘Manuel Belgrano’ in Buenos Aires, and in 1944 he collaborated with Joaquín Torres García and the Argentine poet Edgar Bayley (1919–90) on the magazine Arturo (one issue only), which proposed geometric abstraction for the first time in Argentina. He was also a leading figure of Arte Madí, together with Carmelo Arden Quin (b 1913). During this period he produced his first articulated mobiles (e.g. Royi, 1944; see Glusberg, p. 73), which involved the active participation of the spectator, and early examples of sculptures made of neon (e.g. Madí Aluminium Structure No. 3, 1946;). Like his colleagues in Arte Madí, he proposed the radical autonomy of the art object, and in his later work he explored the possibilities of a diverse range of materials, including even water in his ...

Article

Christina Lodder

[Kazimir] (Konstantinovich)

(b Moscow, 1899; d c. 1935).

Russian sculptor and stage designer. He studied at the Stroganov School in Moscow from 1914 to 1918, specializing in stage design, and then at the State Free Art Studios (Svomas). He was involved in decorating Moscow for May Day 1918 and for the first anniversary of the October Revolution and became a founder-member of the Society of Young Artists (Obmokhu) in 1919. His contributions to the group’s exhibitions included a series of abstract constructions at the third show of May 1921.

Medunetsky was one of the original members of the First Working Group of Constructivists, founded in March 1921, which inaugurated Constructivism in Russia. The following January he displayed six sculptural works entitled Construction of a Spatial Structure in a joint exhibition with Georgy and Vladimir Stenberg. The artists’ declaration in the catalogue was the first publication of the principles of Constructivism and was elaborated in their paper to the Institute of Artistic Culture (Inkhuk), in February. The only extant example of Medunetsky’s sculpture, ...

Article

Terence A. Senter

(b Bácsborsod, Mohol Puszta, Hungary, July 20, 1895; d Chicago, Nov 24, 1946).

American painter, sculptor, photographer, designer, film maker, theorist, and teacher, of Hungarian birth. Moholy-Nagy’s importance in the 20th century is based as much on his theories as on his practical work. His ideologies related to the relationship between space, time, and light, and the interaction of man with these forces. His great achievement was that he applied his mystical outlook to highly practical enterprises and always recognized the purpose behind his creativity.

Moholy-Nagy’s ambition developed when he exchanged village life for the city of Szeged after his father left his family. Academically outstanding, Moholy-Nagy read law for a year at Budapest University before joining the artillery in World War I. Influential praise for his war sketches converted his aspiration from literature to art. His Expressionist style, social conscience, and investigation of light paralleled trends in the Hungarian avant-garde, from ...

Article

Monica Bohm-Duchen

[Peter]

(b Budapest, June 13, 1899; d London, Jan 19, 1967).

British sculptor, printmaker and painter of Hungarian birth. Although he originally intended to follow a legal career, he worked as a stone mason between 1916 and 1917 and in 1918 studied sculpture in Budapest, becoming a member of the MA Group. During the Béla Kun Communist regime in Hungary (1919), he joined a group of travelling actors; on the regime’s downfall, he moved to Vienna and then to Paris. He was expelled from France for left-wing activities and arrived in Berlin in 1920. His early drawings, many of them political satires, show Dadaist and Expressionist influence. In 1921 he produced his first Constructivist works, the Space Constructions, painted on shaped wood or canvas, or occasionally made out of concrete, such as Space Construction V (concrete, 1921; untraced, see 1973 exh. cat., p. 47), and the linocuts derived from them, such as the portfolio collection Linocut, 1922–3 (Berlin, Gemäldegal.). In ...

Article

Wojciech Włodarczyk

(b Derpeczyn, Podolia, May 27, 1885; d Kraków, Feb 8, 1958).

Polish painter, sculptor and stage designer. In 1906–11 he studied painting at the studio of Teodor Axentowicz (d 1938) at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, and he also visited France and Italy where he came into contact with the latest artistic currents. He began exhibiting, often abroad, in 1907, and from 1945 he had a painting studio at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków.

Until c. 1922 Pronaszko was one of the main organizers and exponents of modern art in Poland. In 1917, along with his brother Andrzej Pronaszko (1888–1961) and Tytus Czyżewski, he staged in Kraków the first exhibition of Polish Expressionists (later the Formists) and was one of the chief theoreticians of that tendency. The influence of Cubism is clearly evident in his pictures from that period (e.g. Act, 1917; Kraków, N. Mus.). At this time Pronaszko also made sculptures, producing one of the most celebrated Formist works, the wood monument to ...

Article

Elisabeth Roark

(Warren)

(b South Bend, IN, June 6, 1907; d St Paul, MN, July 17, 2002).

American sculptor. Brought up near Glasgow in Scotland, Rickey left in 1929 to study in Paris with Andre Lhote, Fernand Léger, and Amédée Ozenfant. He returned to the USA in 1934, taught at several colleges, was partly funded by the Works Progress Administration, and continued to paint. While working as an engineer in the army during World War II, Rickey had access to a machine shop and created his first sculpture: small mobiles reminiscent of Alexander Calder’s work. After exposure to Constructivist theories through lectures by Naum Gabo at the Institute of Design, Chicago, and an exhibition of works by Antoine Pevsner at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1948, he abandoned painting to focus on Kinetic art and became a pioneer of that movement. His early sculpture varied from whimsical, referential pieces like Cocktail Party (1954; New York, Mr and Mrs Stephen Kellen priv. col.), of painted mild steel and stainless steel, to more purely formal geometric work. Rickey’s mature style emerged between ...

Article

[Alexander] (Mikhaylovich)

(b St Petersburg, Nov 23, 1891; d Moscow, Dec 3, 1956).

Russian painter, sculptor, designer and photographer. He was a central exponent of Russian Constructivism, owing much to the pre-Revolutionary work of Kazimir Malevich and Vladimir Tatlin, and he was closely involved in the cultural debates and experiments that followed the Revolution of 1917. In 1921 he denounced, on ideological grounds, easel painting and fine art, and he became an exponent of Productivism (see Constructivism, §1) in many fields, including poster design, furniture, photography and film. He resumed painting in his later years. His work was characterized by the systematic way in which from 1916 he sought to reject the conventional roles of self-expression, personal handling of the medium and tasteful or aesthetic predilections. His early nihilism and condemnation of the concept of art make it problematic even to refer to Rodchenko as an artist: in this respect his development was comparable to that of Dada, although it also had roots in the anarchic activities of Russian Futurist groups....

Article

Shin’ichiro Osaki

(b Tokyo, May 4, 1904; d Yokohama, June 13, 2001).

Japanese painter and sculptor. Self-taught as an artist, in the 1920s he met David Burlyuk and others involved with such movements as Futurism, Constructivism and Dada. From 1931 Saitō concentrated on a career as an artist, initially producing Constructivist reliefs. At that time a celebrated incident occurred when he refused to exhibit pieces at the Nikakai (Second Division Society) exhibition on the grounds that his pieces were neither painting nor sculpture: he was first chosen for the Nikakai exhibition in 1936. In 1938, together with Jirō Yoshihara and Takeo Yamaguchi (1902–83), he established the ‘Room Nine Society’ (Kyūshitsukai) with artists of the Nikakai whose works tended towards abstraction. He collaborated on Toro-wood, a series of reliefs (c. 1939) destroyed in World War II (for reconstruction see 1984 exh. cat., p. 54). During the war he was persecuted by the military authorities for his avant-garde activities....

Article

Richard Humphreys

(Herman Edward Karl Julius)

(b Hannover, June 20, 1887; d Kendal, Westmorland, England, Jan 8, 1948).

German painter, sculptor, designer and writer. He studied at the Kunstakademie in Dresden (1909–14) and served as a clerical officer and mechanical draughtsman during World War I. At first his painting was naturalistic and then Impressionistic, until he came into contact with Expressionist art, particularly the art associated with Der Sturm, in 1918. He painted mystical and apocalyptic landscapes, such as Mountain Graveyard (1912; New York, Guggenheim), and also wrote Expressionist poetry for Der Sturm magazine. He became associated with the Dada movement in Berlin after meeting Hans Arp, Raoul Hausmann, Hannah Höch and Richard Huelsenbeck, and he began to make collages that he called Merzbilder. These were made from waste materials picked up in the streets and parks of Hannover, and in them he saw the creation of a fragile new beauty out of the ruins of German culture. Similarly he began to compose his poetry from snatches of overheard conversations and randomly derived phrases from newspapers and magazines. His mock-romantic poem ...