CONSTRUCTIVISM / Aleksei Gan

The 1922 defining text for the constructivist movement, introduced by an essay that rediscovers the fascinating figure of its author.

softcover
English
21 x 16 cm
28 halftones images; 12 color plates;1 typographic insert
178pp
ISBN: 978-84-939231-2-9            

 

 

Aleksei Gan’s Constructivism was the first theoretical treatise of post-revolutionary Russia’s emergent Constructivist movement. Published in 1922, this iconoclastic blast of revolutionary zeal was a declaration of war on traditional Bourgeois art.

By defining its three core principles: tectonics, faktura & construction, Gan recasts artist and architect as Constructors, no longer fretting about aesthetic or speculative problems in art but focusing instead on the fusion of art with everyday life to create a system of design where “everything will be conceived in a technical and functional way” - a fitting contribution to the great task of building the new communist society.

Christina Lodder’s illuminating introductory essay examines the intriguing character of the mercurial author. Gan, the “Mass Constructor”, was a key figure among Russia’s post-revolutionary avant-garde, working across theatre, architecture, graphics and cinema. Agitator, publisher, activist and promoter, he was a close friend of Rodchenko and Stepanova and was the foremost theoretician of Moscow’s Working Group of Constructivists.

Penned, typeset and printed by Gan, himself, this version of the text respects his original layout - one of the first experiments in Constructivist typography and graphic design.  With this slim volume, he announced the arrival of the Constructivists to the wider world with the power and immediacy of a clashing cymbal. This edition allows Aleksei Gan’s contribution to one of the defining movements of 20th century art finally to be fully appreciated and understood.

 

ALEKSEI GAN

Gan, (b ?1889; d ?1940/42), worked across theatre, architecture, graphics and cinema. Agitator, publisher, activist and promoter, he was the main theorist and co-founder with Rodchenko and Stepanova of the First Working Group of Constructivists. He published and edited the journal Kino-Fot (1922–3), in which he promoted photography and cinema as the favourite artistic mediums for a new Soviet society. He developed his theories about cinema in Long live the demonstration of life! (1923) and in his articles for Sovremennaya arkhitektura (1926–30), where he was also the arts director and editor. He was also a founding member of ‘October’ group (1928–32), which advocated Constructivist ideals.

CHRISTINA LODDER

Professor Christina Lodder is an established scholar of Russian art. She is currently an honorary fellow at the Universities of Edinburgh and Kent, Vice-President of the Malevich Society, and co-editor of Brill’s Russian History and Culture series. Among her publications are numerous articles and several books. She has also been involved with various exhibitions such as Modernism (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2006) and From Russia (Royal Academy, London 2008).

"The definitive edition of Gan’s text." 

Jonathan Vernon, The Burlington Magazine

"Lodder’s translation of the first major manifesto of Soviet Constructivism is a milestone in understanding just exactly what was happening among these small groups of ex-painters, ex-sculptors, ex-poets, designers, directors and architects."

Owen Hatherley, Radical Philosophy

"Pays long-overdue respect to this important experiment in graphic design."

Eleanor Rees, Russian art and culture

"Extraordinary. . . . The volume combines the aesthetic qualities of a historical artefact with the academic overview of Ms Lodder’s informative introduction."

Phoebe Taplin, Russia Beyond the Headlines

 
“Lodder’s knowledge of Gan’s career and reputation, her mastery of the complex historical and theoretical debates of the time, and her ability to analyse diverse cultural positions in an integrated manner is impressive. In her account of Gan’s career, Lodder interweaves discussion of both contemporary theory and art-historical debates of the 1920s with close reading of a wide range of primary sources. This volume is an important contribution to the growing literature on Russian Constructivism, and will become essential reading for scholars and students of Russian cultural history and politics of the twentieth century.”
Slavonic and East European Review
 
“Lodder’s English translation . . . represents a long-awaited resource for scholars of Soviet visual, cultural, and political history, as well as an invaluable text for the neophytes.”
Russian Review

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