Constructivism

Blik, Sign up for the Urals Worker
Blik, A.
Sign up for the Urals Worker, 1924

Knoblok, Railway workers keep up the fast pace
Knoblok.
Railway workers keep up the fast pace..., 1932

The term Constructivism was coined by a socially minded group of artists working in the Soviet Union at the end of the Bolshevik Civil War in the early '20s. The Constructivists were young artists who felt that art should have a revolutionary purpose and should contribute to the "construction" of a new communist society, one based on science and modern technology.

Adapting the avant-garde forms of Cubism and Futurism, the Constructivists created a new "agitational" vocabulary for the Revolution, which became the dominant style in the Soviet Union from 1924 to 1933. Their posters were the first to incorporate photography as a graphic design element, along with strident slogans, powerful typefaces and dynamic compositions constructed of strong diagonals. Pioneers of this style were the team of Rodchenko and Mayakovsky in advertising and the Stenberg Brothers in film posters. Gustav Klutsis and his wife Valentina Kulagina carried on this vocabulary into the first Five Year Plan of 1928-1933, creating heroic images of Stalin and his accomplishments in forceful compositions. The style ultimately was superceded by Social Realism, a less dramatic and graphic approach favored by Stalin as the Thirties progressed.

The design legacy of the Constructivists was conveyed to Western Europe by El Lissitsky, who traveled widely in the Twenties. Lissitsky's impact was pivotal to the development of the rational modern aesthetic at the Bauhaus and beyond.

View all Constructivist posters

Klutsis, Millions of qualified workers
Klutsis, Gustav.
 Millions of qualified workers for the 518 new factories, 1931

Stenberg, Open Subscription to Journal New World (Novymir)
Stenberg, Vladimir & Gyorgy 
Open Subscription to the Journal New World (Novymir), 1926

Koretsky, With Lenin's Banner
Koretsky, Viktor.
 With Lenin's banner
we were and will be
victorious, 1932