Avant-garde tendency in 20th-century painting, sculpture, photography, design and architecture, with associated developments in literature, theatre and film. The term was first coined by artists in Russia in early 1921 and achieved wide international currency in the 1920s. Russian Constructivism refers specifically to a group of artists who sought to move beyond the autonomous art object, extending the formal language of abstract art into practical design work. This development was prompted by the utopian climate following the October Revolution of 1917, which led artists to seek to create a new visual environment, embodying the social needs and values of the new Communist order. The concept of International Constructivism defines a broader current in European art, most vital from around 1922 until the end of the 1920s, that was centred primarily in Central and Eastern Europe. International Constructivists were inspired by the Russian example, both artistically and politically. They continued, however, to work in the traditional artistic media of painting and sculpture, while also experimenting with film and photography and recognizing the potential of the new formal language for utilitarian design. The term Constructivism has frequently been used since the 1920s, in a looser fashion, to evoke a continuing tradition of geometric abstract art that is ‘constructed’ from autonomous visual elements such as lines and planes, and characterized by such qualities as precision, impersonality, a clear formal order, simplicity and economy of organization and the use of contemporary materials such as plastic and metal....
revised by Benjamin Benus
(b Port Arthur, TX, Oct 22, 1925; d Captiva Island, FL, May 12, 2008).
American painter, sculptor, printmaker, photographer, and performance artist. While too much of an individualist ever to be fully a part of any movement, he acted as an important bridge between Abstract Expressionism and Pop art and can be credited as one of the major influences in the return to favour of representational art in the USA. As iconoclastic in his invention of new techniques as in his wide-ranging iconography of modern life, he suggested new possibilities that continued to be exploited by younger artists throughout the latter decades of the 20th century.
Rauschenberg studied at Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design from 1947 to 1948 under the terms of the GI Bill before travelling to Paris, where he attended the Académie Julian for a period of about six months. On reading about the work of Josef Albers he returned to the USA to study from autumn 1948 to spring ...
(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....