The Russian Avant Garde and the Bolshevik Revolution

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The Russian Avant Garde and the Bolshevik Revolution

The Russian Avant Garde began in Russia in about 1915 It was the year that Malevich revealed his Suprematist compositions that reduced painting to total abstraction. and rid the pictures of any reference whatsoever to the visual world. He is credited with being the first artist to do this; that is, forsake the visual world for a world of pure feeling and sensation. This was the first movement originated by Russians and the birth of several other Avant Garde movements. Probably the most popular piece at his 1915 exhibition was “BLACK SQUARE” (real name “suprematist composition”. It’s basically a black square on a slightly larger white square that forms a border around it. It was hung in the exhibition in the way an icon would be hung in a peasant’s home; ie top corner of the room. Malevich saw Suprematism as representing a yearning for space, an impulse to break free from the globe of the earth. It a spirit, a spirituality that went beyond anything before it.

Among Malevich’s students and contemporaries were such names as El Lissitzsky, Alexsandr Rodchenko and Vladimir Tatlin who were, of course, to lead the Constructivist movement which started in the same year as Malevich’s exhibition. Tatlin had returned from studying art in Paris in 1913 where he had seen a series of relief constructions by Picasso. Tatlin became very interested in form and message rather than representation and so he himself made a series of constructions. They were in the same vein as Picasso, but they were framed within a space and jutted out of the picture plane into the space of the observer. They created a lot of interest and he coined the term Constructivism. Tatlin and Malevich, who had been ...

... middle of paper ... had a base. A few caved in and became correct thinkers. A few escaped to other countries in Europe. Some stayed in Europe and some ended up in America. They have developed and grown. Along with Gabo and Rothko and Kandinsky and numerous others, they are still having a profound influence on art. There were many parallels between the Russian Avant Garde and the two revolutions in 1915. The big difference between them in 2001, is that the art survives and grows stronger; while the other is seen for what it is, a pathetic pseudo despotism run, for a lot of years by a sociopathic mortophile.


Russian Constructivism. Christina Lodder. Yale University Press. 1983.

Art Spoke. Robert Atkins. Abbeville Press. 1993.

Art and Revolution. John Berger. Pantheon Books. 1969.

The Struggle for Utopia. Victor Margolin. University of Chicago Press. 1997.
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