Soviet Constructivism honoured at Brussels Design Museum

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The ADAM, the Brussels Design Museum close to the Atomium, is currently hosting its first exhibition in co-operation with the Moscow Design Museum.

Flandersnews went to meet up with Arnaud Bozzini, the ADAM's exhibitions director, to learn more about Soviet graphic design in The Paper Revolution.

Arnaud Bozzini: « This is the ADAM's first graphic design exhibition and the first time we team up with the Moscow Design Museum. The co-operation is a success. We were able to stage The Paper Revolution, a major exhibition on Soviet Constructivism and draw on the collection of the Moscow Design Museum and its private partners. »

The Paper Revolution shows over 100 posters, magazines, books, covers, cards and leaflets illustrating Soviet Constructivism of the Twenties and Thirties.

Arnaud Bozzini: « Constructivism was a totally new form of art developed by the artist to promote the Soviet Revolution. It was a break with the past, with the existing Russian artistic tradition. It was a modernist, avant-garde movement created at the beginning of the last century. »

In the Twenties Russian Constructivist artists declared every traditional art form to be dead. They said that the only valid activity for an artist was the production of objects, but in the event graphic design was the only form of this movement to flourish. Soviet Constructivist artists produced books, leaflets and posters that were printed in their thousands. This art form was far cheaper and easier to disseminate and this happened across the globe making this art form the visual face of the Soviet Union.

Arnaud Bozzini: « Constructivist artists didn't just use bold letters to form words and sentences, but also create an image to serve the Soviet revolution and its ideology. They played with fonts, underline and layout. They were the first artists to make use of photography and photographic collages in their art. It is an art form whose influence is still noticed today. The UK band Franz Ferdinand used one of Rodchenko's images for its CD cover. » (photo top)

Arnaud Bozzini: « Constructivist artists used bold colours – their favourites were red, black and white – as well as geometric forms. In Constructivism you can see the seeds of the later Bauhaus movement. »

Mechanical reproduction allowed Constructivist posters and magazines to become the main device of Soviet propaganda. Using the compositional structure of Russian Orthodox devotional images Constructivism turned political leaders into political icons. It played a crucial role in developing a Bolshevist political religion. Powerful images were used to impress and turn Soviet workers into heroes. Experimental books and magazines became one of the most effective propaganda tools.

Constructivism witnessed its heyday in the Twenties and the first part of the Thirties, but by the mid Thirties its formalism was coming under increasing attack and by the end of the decade artists were forced to switch to the new standards of conservative design associated with Soviet social realism.

The Paper Revolution runs at the ADAM Brussels Design Museum at the Heizel exhibition site until 8 October 2017.

 

Flandersnews.be / Expatica

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