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Constructivism’s Vešč, Objet, Gegenstand and the New Art of the “Object”

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The Making of an International, Collective Art

There is no doubt that the Futurists, Constructivists, Productionists – all the Russian avant-garde groups – wanted to represent the “new world” of socialism in and through art. However, the relationship between art and life, or art and work in the new socialist state was not one-dimensional. This can be seen from a close reading of one of the major Constructivist manifestoes, published in Ilya Erenburg’s and El Lisitzky’s short-lived journal “Vešč, Objet, Gegenstand” 1922–23 (Berlin). What emerges from the militaristic jargon and the metaphors with which the new art platform announced in “Vešč, Objet, Gegenstand” comes to expression is that the Constructivist movement is focused on structures which it calls “the object” and that this emerging Structuralism constitutes not just a method of artistic inquiry but a new mode of perception. This paper attempts to show, by a close reading of the lexicon of this Constructivist manifesto, how the concept of the ‘object’ had a metaphysical dimension in that it was raised into a phenomenology of perception by the Constructivist artist but also a new artistic paradigm of international, collective art.

Affiliations: 1: Monash University,


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