Constructivism: an influence on my graphic design and art

Ross Hall

November 8, 2021
(Updated on November 4, 2021)

Abstract artwork with the skyline of kobe represented beneath a clock

I was in my early teens when I first became aware of Constructivism. The geometric shapes and subdued colour palettes fascinated me, and I began to incorporate elements of it into my own work. Then I discovered surrealism, and for a while at least it took a back seat.

Constructivism is one of the many art movements to emerge from the Russian Revolution. It was formed in 1915 by Vladimir Tatlin and Alexander Rodchenko, who evolved a theory harmony could be found through geometry, abandoning art’s traditional focus on composition with one of construction. Art would express the dynamism of the Soviet Union and the continuous revolution it promised.

Constructivism inspired illustration about unfollowing inactive Twitter accounts
A graphic designed for an article on Social Media. Elements of Constructivism underpin the design.

By the mid-1920s, Constructivism was on the decline, undoubtably hindered by Trotsky’s downfall. An early patron of the movement, his fall poisoned its perception. It was finally abandoned in the early 1930s as the Soviets pursued “Socialist Realism”.

It might have been the end of the movement, and consigned it to a brief, if intense, footnote. However, Constructivism was influencing other movements in Europe, notably Bauhaus and De Stijl. Both would adopt Constructivists as lecturers and ambassadors, and echoes of the movement’s focus on geometric harmony can be seen in works by their proponents.

Abstract artwork of dark shapes emanating from a circle in the top left of a red panel
Untitled Artwork #4. Inspired by Constructivist principles. Available as a print on Redbubble and DeviantArt.

While there are few modern Constructivists, the movement’s principles continue to appear across graphic design and abstract art. It may not have the prominence of Bauhaus, but arguably its influence is as strong.

It’s certainly an influence in my work.

Header image: Untitled Artwork #1. Available as a print on Redbubble and DeviantArt.

I'm Ross, a digital editorial designer and content creator from the UK now living in Japan. I help growing companies plan, source, produce and promote a range of content. Find out more

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