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One of the central beliefs of the Bauhaus was that the discoveries of avant-garde art (which was at the time “modernism”) could be applied to all aspects of design, to create innovative design solutions for the contemporary world. This idea was immediately successful, and is still valid today. All areas of design in our post-modern world make use of the discoveries of modern art, applied in ever-evolving and exciting ways.

1. Choose a modern art movement, from the following list:

  • Art Nouveau
  • Expressionism
  • Cubism
  • Futurism
  • Dada
  • Surrealism
  • Constructivism
  • De Stijl
  • Bauhaus
  • Art Deco
  • International Style (architecture)
  • Swiss Style (graphic design)

2. Describe the specific political and cultural conditionsthat led to the movement. What was the movement responding to, and what was the solution it offered? Who were the key figures? What years was the movement active?

3. Choose one artistfrom the movement, and give a brief introduction to their life and work.4Perform visual analyses of two of this modern artist’sworks. Include images with captions (title, year, medium) and references.5Choose a contemporary designer. Choose someone that you believe has been influenced by the modern movement, and the work of the modern artist in step

3. Give a brief introduction to this contemporary designer’slife and work. 

4. Perform visual analyses of two of the contemporary designer’s works. Include images with captions (title, year, medium) and references. The works chosen must have beencreated sometime between 1980-2018.

In your visual analyses, show the influence of the modern movementfrom step 2, and in particular the influence of the modernartistfrom step 3.That is,make comparisons between the works of the modernartist and the contemporary designer.

Has the contemporary designer used any specific techniques of the modern movement you’ve chosen? (See the end of the appropriate lecture slides for a starter list of techniques). Of course, you cannot know how they came up with their ideas, but can you find any visual evidence of one the techniques?

Is there any political or cultural link between the modernartistand the contemporary designer? Or does the contemporary designer only make use of aesthetics and techniques of the modern movement/the modernartist?

Description of Movement

A movement with causes in Russia, Constructivism was essentially an art and building movement. It dismissed the possibility of art for the good of arts also the conventional normal section of the society for which in the past art has provided required supplements to survive and find meaning from life (Thompson 2015). This particular movement has treated art as a medium that can bring about the necessary social changes and that would fulfill one of the required social needs. This particular art movement was mainly created after the World War I, this particular art movement desired to help in the creation of an almost utopian society which will be quite different from the society which had caused the World War I. The particular term constructivism and the art form developed by Kasmir Malevich who took his reference from Aleksander Rodchenko. The art form spread itself to various other genres such as publications, books, logos among other formats and did not limit itself to just paintings (Fosnot 2013). Rodchenko has been an inspiration to many artists worldwide who desired to continue the art form. The inspired artists include Jan Tschichold who went on to become very successful.

The political condition that lead to the constructivism movement was the development of the Russian Futurism after the World War 1 (Broude 2018). To be more precise, the exhibited counter reliefs of Vladimir Tatlin in the year 1915 was considered to be the political background of the Constructivism. The particular art form of constructivism had the desire to change the way art is taking its course in the society and what role does art play in order to transform the society from its roots. Art should not be limited to just a medium for entertainment, it must be one of the driving forces for the society (Phillips 2013).

On the other hand the social background of the movement was the series of debates that took place in the time span from the year 1920 to 1922 at the Institute of the Artistic Culture in the city of Moscow. The development of the concept was triggered with the overthrowing of the first chairman Wassily Kandinsky for his “Mysticism”. After the deposing, a group of constructivists in form of Liubov Popova, Varvara Stepanova, Alexander Vesnin and Rodchenko along with a group of theorists like Aleksei Gan, Osip Brik and Boris Arvatov deveopled he concept with the combination of the Faktura and Tektonika (Groys 2014). The societal interpretation of the Faktura is considered to be the material property of an object and on the other hand the Tektonika is considered to be the special presence of it.

The mentioned architectural philosophy was focused in opposing and rejection of the ideas of the autonomous arts. The movement was significantly focused in favoring the art as the practice of the social purposes. The solution it offered was the formation of the eagerness to “construct art”. This was having great significance in influencing the 20th century modern art movements and the major trends of it like Bauhaus and De Stijl (Birringer 2013).

Description of the Artist

The key characters for the movement were Vladimir Tatlin, Liubov Popova, Varvara Stepanova, Alexander Vesnin and Rodchenko, Aleksei Gan, Osip Brik and Boris Arvatov (Groys 2014). Both the introduction and the development of the philosophy significantly depended on the mentioned figures. The active time span of the movement was from 1913 to 1940.

The chosen artist will be Naum Gabo. Gabo was a Russian sculptor and was significantly connected to the constructivist art movement. Along with this, he was considered as the innovator of the Kinetic sculpture. The man was key figure in the avant-garde of the post-revolutionary Russia and was significantly influential in the De Stijl and Buhaus schools of art (Janecek 2014). He was considered to have a notably eventful life visiting cities like the Berlin, Oslo, London, Moscow and Par in response to the scientific and political revolutions that happened during his timespan. The development of the Cubism, Abstraction-Creation, the Bauhaus, Futurism, Constructivism and De Stijl was notable within the major avant-garde movements (Koloogani and Ghazvini 2017). Gabo was able to elaborate his ideas in the constructivist Realistic Manifesto of the static views of him regarding the decorative usage of the color, line, solid mass and volume for the new element that he termed as “the Kinetic Rhythms”.  Gabo’s theory of art was concerned with the exploration of the space where he was observed to believe that the exploration can be done without any sort of depiction of the mass.


Image: Construction in Space (Crystal)

Medium: Cellulose Acetate (Tate 2018)

Year: 1937-1939

Reference: T06978


Image: Constructed head no. 2

Medium: Steel (Tate 2018)

Year: 1916 and the enlarged version came in the year 1964

Reference: T01520

The first work of art belongs to Naum Gabo who had been fascinated by the scientific theories and models and adapted their general conclusions for the sculptural ends of his arts. It has been found that the work was highly inspired by a mathematical model. The model particularly was typical of the geometry handbooks along with representing an ‘oscillating developable of a cubic ellipse’. Notably, the surrealists were significantly attracted by its uniqueness and became exhibited in the ‘Exposition surréaliste d’objets’ in Paris, 1936. In the same year it became featured by Cahiers d’Art and Gabo had produced the primary sketches of the work in the Encyclopaedia Britannica.  A sense of circular movement is produced by incising the sculpture with radiating lines and sticking together with glue. The title word ‘crystal’ suggests a familiarity with crystallography which is a flourishing science that brought together the organic and geometric having examined the internal structure of the molecules so that it is revealed mathematically.  On the other hand, the second work of art also belongs to the same artist, based on the ‘stereometric construction’. With the help of this method the artist a form descriptive of the space in a better way instead of the establishment of mass. The artist further used planes in order to construct figures and heads demonstrating the application of this particular method. The second piece of art known titled as the ‘Head no 2’ is a further enlargement of the dramatic models.

Two of his arts

Shepard Fairey is the designer of the contemporary times whose works are cited in this regards. Frank Shepard Fairey who was born on 1970, February 15th, is one of the American contemporary street artist, activist, graphic designer, and illustrator. He is also an entrepreneur and owns the brand called Obey Clothing. This brand is built on the creative ideas of Shepard Fairey and he is one of the contemporary artists taking forward the art of Constructivism. He rose to his fame when he designed the “Hope” poster for Barack Obama (Gries 2017). This particular poster had the elements that had driven the 2008 elections. Obama’s face had a particular kind of expression which reflected the confidence of Obama and the title Hope had complimented the poster. Many of his works are put together and exhibited at The Smithsonian, the Lost Angeles County Museum of Art.

The two works chosen in this case are Hope and Embrace Justice by the artist. The Barack Obama "Hope" poster is a picture of Barack Obama planned by artist Shepard Fairey, which was broadly depicted as famous and came to speak to his 2008 presidential campaign. It comprises of an adapted stencil representation of Obama in strong red, beige and (light and dim) blue, with "advance", "hope" or "change" underneath (and different words in a few variants). The plan was made in one day and printed first as a poster. Fairey sold 290 of the posters on the street promptly in the wake of printing them. It was then more generally conveyed—both as an advanced picture and other stuff—amid the 2008 decision season, at first freely yet with the endorsement of the authority Obama battle. The picture wound up a standout amongst the most broadly perceived images of Obama's battle message, bringing forth numerous varieties and impersonations, including some authorized by the Obama crusade. Embrace Justice on the other hand was aimed at justice delivered to the Afro-Americans and how it is biased in many cases.


On a concluding note, it can be said that the evolution of the artistic and the architectural philosophy in the form of Constructivism was triggered in the year 1913 by Vladimir Tatlin in Russia. The main focus of movement was the rejection of the autonomous art and the enthusiasm to start constructing the art. The movement had the motive to inspire the portrayal of the social purposes in the form of art.   


Birringer, J., 2013. Bauhaus, constructivism, performance. PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, 35(2), pp.39-52.

Broude, N., 2018. The expanding discourse: feminism and art history. Routledge.

Fosnot, C.T., 2013. Constructivism: Theory, perspectives, and practice. Teachers College Press.

Gries, L., 2017. Mapping Obama hope: A data visualization project for visual rhetorics.

Groys, B., 2014. On art activism. e-flux journal, 56, pp.1-14.

Janecek, G., 2014. The Look of Russian Literature: avant-garde visual experiments, 1900-1930 (Vol. 641). Princeton University Press.

Koloogani, M.A. and Ghazvini, P.S., 2017. An Explanation of the Machine Aesthetics in Russian Avant-garde Art Based on Marx’s Ideas. BAGH-E NAZAR, 14(48), pp.45-60.

Tate. 2018. ‘Construction in Space (Crystal)’, Naum Gabo, 1937-9 | Tate. [online] Available at:

Tate. 2018. ‘Head No. 2’, Naum Gabo, 1916, enlarged version 1964 | Tate. [online] Available at:

Thompson, C.M., 2015. Constructivism in the art classroom: Praxis and policy. Arts Education Policy Review, 116(3), pp.118-127.

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