The Soviet Political Photomontage of the 1920s. the Case of Gustav Klucis
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CitationRatanova, Maria. 2016. The Soviet Political Photomontage of the 1920s. the Case of Gustav Klucis. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThe Soviet political photomontage, as a turn “from faktura to factography,” is sometimes viewed as a compromise that the constructivists had to make to meet the aesthetic and informational needs of their new audience, the proletarian masses. I argue that it was an expansion of the constructivist paradigm, and that throughout the 1920s Soviet photomontage was not only feeding on the principles of analytical art, but in a sense became their ultimate expression. Gustav Klucis, a pioneer of the Soviet political photomontage, and the hero of my dissertation, stated in his theoretical writings, that photomontage is the form of analytical art. The hybrid genre of photomontage was in fact a result of the constructuvists’ search for an adequate form to interpret political reality. In the case of Klucis photomontage was anything but a direct and simple agitational genre.
I prove that in Klucis’s agitational photomontage the radical constructivist form and the factographic material were organically intertwined. There was never a forced incorporation of ideology into an elaborate geometric construction. On the contrary, contemporary life and current political events captured by the artist-photographer’s camera, served as a catalyst for invention of new forms. I argue that the political photo-slogan-montage invented by Klucis emerged from his earlier experimental “small architecture” created in 1922: agitational kiosks, stands for slogans, podiums, and ‘radio-orators.’
I focus in particular on the series of Klucis’s constructivist photomontages of the 1920s: illustrations to Molodaya Gvardia, and the series of illustrations to Mayavovsky’s poem Lenin. The idea of depicting Lenin as iconoclast and the productivist artists’ ally in their project of rebuilding the entire world led Klucis to challenge the boundaries of his art. The Lenin series, one of the most complex examples of constructivist photomontage of the 1920s, demonstrates close affinities of photomontage with the avant-garde poetry of Mayakovsky, the constructivist theater of Vsevolod Meyerhold and set designer Liubov Popova, and Dziga Vertov’s avant-garde film.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33493382
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