War on Art

“We declare absolute war on art!”
The first working group of Constructivists, 1920, Moscow

Catherine Cooke, whose collection on Soviet design and architecture has supplied many items for this exhibition, was particularly interested in the Constructivist movement and this image is from her copy of Aleksei Gan’s rare 1922 book on Constructivism.

As other Constructivists, Gan criticised the old but also the new, insisting that creativity without ideology was redundant.  In this, his most famous book, the art of typography is used to drive words home.

Amidst the chaos of the civil war and post-war life, and before the rise of Socialist Realism as a standardised artistic movement, the new Soviet world would be home to extraordinary experimentation in the arts.

Konstruktivizm / Aleksei Gan (1922)  CCA.54.138

Extended captions