“Constructivism” is often mistakenly employed outside Russia as a synonym for all Soviet avant-garde architecture of the 1920s. Strictly speaking, the term only applies to the activities of one professional group – the OSA (Organisation of Contemporary Architects). Many avant-garde architects were not members of the OSA and did not consider themselves to be “Constructivists”.

In 1924, Moisei Ginzburg published a book entitled Style and Epoch, which used the term “Constructivism” to describe architecture which regarded the construction itself as the main artistic phenomenon. The term usually refers to functional buildings constructed in a reinforced-concrete frame without any external decoration.

In Russia, the word “Constructivism” was first employed in the late 1910s by artists – not architects. The main pioneer was Vladimir Tatlin, whose non-objective art differed from the more sublime-cosmic ideas and images of his avant-garde colleagues. Tatlin was orientated on the real materials employed in the production process and everyday life, symbolically expressing one of the features of that time – the hegemony of industry.

Sadly, very little remains of Vladimir Tatlin’s original Constructivist art. The famous Monument to the Third International was destroyed, while his counter-reliefs were dismantled after temporary exhibitions. The non-objective line in Russian art was continued by Alexander Rodchenko, who created a unique fusion of Constructivism and Suprematism in the late 1910s and early 1920s.

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