The philosophy of constructivism has its roots in Russia. This is a movement of artists that came together, and who shared a common vision in terms of seeing art as a depiction of everyday life. Later on, the concept was to take root in the rest of the continent (Warren 2006). It was especially championed by such artists as
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Rodchenko and Lissitzky, whose work was an inspiration to many an artist. In addition, the form, shape, color, tone and subject matter of the work Rodchenko and Lissitzky were a symbol of the developments in the social order of the communist system of government, at the time. Posters were mainly used to symbolize the thoughts of the artists as regards the political situation at the time, and the way of life in general.
Constructivism in graphic design and its integration in everyday life
Constructivism is a term that is used in reference to a modern arty movement whose origin may be traced to Moscow, during the early 1920s. Constructivism entails the application of such industrial materials as sheet metal, glass, as well as plastic for purposes of depicting objects that are often geometrical in form. In addition, this group of artists resolved to “traverse self-directed objects of art and in the process, they managed to replace abstract art and its related language into work that is practically designed. The formation of the constructivism movement was triggered by the ensuing climate of utopia which took place in Russia, after the 1917 October revolution. Indeed, it is this October revolution that is believed to have seen artists searching for a novel visual environment, one that symbolized the fresh communist order and its associated values and social needs.
Alexander Rodchenko is credited with having influenced in a tremendous way a lot of the work by graphic designers during the 20th century. In addition to Rodchenko, El Lissitzky Lilssitsky is another artist who is credited with having had a profound inspiration on the graphic design that a number of western graphic designers developed. Anton Lavinsky along with Solomon Telingater has also been linked with the inspiration of the graphic work of rebel Western artists.
A majority of the constructivists are said to have worked on posters design (Lewis 2004). Back then during the 1920s and the pres ceding years, posters were believed to impact greatly in driving home the idea that such artists harbored regarding the powers that be, in addition to the overall impression of everyday life. As such, posters found wide application in political propaganda, as well as film. A perfect example of how a poster’s best-found application in the film is the posters of the Stenberg brothers with its jazz-like geometry and bright color is a good example of the use of posters in films. On the other hand, the photomontage work that was accomplished by Valentina Kulagina and Gustav Klutsis, and which may at best be described as agitational in nature, is an application of posters in political propaganda.
Constructivism is often seen as a creation of Russians, despite the fact that this philosophy was to, later on, gain popularity all over Europe (Lewis 2004). By and large, Russian artists were the majority in this movement, and they sought to give a picture of a piece of art that symbolized their societal and patriotic beliefs. Constructivism is popularly heralded for bringing the greatest amount of changes to present-day graphic design. The present-day graphic designers accomplish their artistic work by relating both the tangible as well as practical needs within the current-day society. In the society that we are now living in, art has come to be valued by virtue of its usefulness, as opposed to the associated aesthetics.
The initial photomontage that Rodchenko produced was in the year 1922. This was by then seen as a novel artistic genre that set the foundation for Rodchenko to create some of the most iconic pieces of graphic design ever seen. In the preceding years, leading companies alongside publishing houses in the Soviet Union embraced the photomontage concept (Figes & Kolonitskii 1999). In effect, this graphic design model was to, later on, turn into a trendy technique of posters and book covers illustrations. At the end of 1925, Rodchenko embarked on his short career stint as a photographer but later had to discontinue this until 1927.
Be that as it may, this initial photography work by Rodchenko was to later become a basis for the profession in the years to come. This has been seen by many critics as a “diagonal dynamic of his early paintings” (Warren 2006). The photography work of Rodchenko is believed to have been quite engaging, socially, in addition to its formal innovativeness. With regard to shooting, Rodchenko had a tendency to take the picture of his subject from an angle that was quite odd (Heller & Chwast 2001). Such angles would either be below, or above a subject, and the intention was twofold: to delay recognition, and also to give a shock to the viewer.
The actual body of the photographic work of Rodchenko is unique, in that he has employed perspectives that were not only seen as unusual at the time but also equally daring.
These perspectives were characterized by a multitude of ascending and plunging views. In addition, there were also “compositions on the diagonal and pronounced foreshortening, and in which he employs the line as a compositional element” (Warren 2006). El Lissitzky has been painted by many scholars as “the Russian avant-garde’s unofficial emissary to the West”. This was occasioned by extensive traveling and lecturing in support of contemporary Russian artists. These artists harbored the idea that abstraction acted as an indication of the social values of the utopia.
During the 1920s, Lissitky established his base in both Hanover and Berlin. Here, he assisted in the productions of publications, as well as taking a key role in the organization of exhibitions that sought to promote not only the Russian art, but also that from the west, as long as these “ shared a common vision of aesthetics steeped in technology, mass production, and social transformation” (Heller & Chwast 2001). Lissitzky was of the opinion that both social engineering and communism were out to establish a new order. In addition, he strongly believed that the new technology would be very vital in the provision of the needs of the society.
With its roots traceable to the former Soviet Union, Constructivism as a philosophy has immensely contributed to the development of change in the field of graphic design. This is because the pioneers of this concept succeeded in integrating art and the social values of everyday life. For this reason, artists are now able to express their feelings and opinions about say, the political situation in a given social setting. Previously, posters were used to drive the point home, especially in the early 1920s, following the October revolution of 1917 in Russia. What is important to note here however is that the tone, shape, color, and subject matter that such constructivists as Lissitzky and Rodchenko used in their graphical work, serves as a symbol of the social values in a society. This way, the work of these graphic designers may be said to integrate art into the everyday way of life.
Figes, O, & Kolonitskii, B, 1999, Interpreting the Russian Revolution: The Language.
and Symbols of 1917. New Haven: Yale University Press.
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Heller, Steven, H, & Chwast, S, 2001, Graphic Style from Victorian to Digital (New Ed).
New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Lewis, B, 2004, 20th-century type. London: Laurence King.
Warren, L, 2006, Encyclopedia of twentieth-century photography. New York: CRC Press.