I have already written about the Cubist and Futurist influences to graphic design. Well, you can argue about the former but when I get into modernist French design I think there is a influence of cubism and a general strong connection to the fine arts. Futurism seems to have had a profound influence on Dada and Constructivist designs and that leads to the De Stijl movement to the Bauhaus school (which has had the most profound and influence on modern design, art and on how design and art was/is taught).
It seems as though Constructivists of Russia mingled with the De Stijl artists and designers (Lissitzky and Van Doesburg). In addition, eventually, many Constructivist and De Stijl artists and designers went on the teach or had some connection to the Bauhaus in Germany (Mondrian and Lissitzky) and vice versa (Maholy-Nagy, Schwitters, Van Doesburg). Really, it seems all these movements are somewhat interconnected and stylistically it does seem that way. To me it makes sense.
So what is Constructivism? This is a primarily an art movement that was based in Russia in the early 20th century. It had a considerable link to the Russian Communist Revolution. They merged the arts with modern technological rationalism for political and ideological uses. Basically, it was a form of Soviet-era Russian propaganda.
The aesthetics of Constructivism is similar to the geometric abstract Suprematist paintings of Kasimir Malevich. Constructivism was also a departure from Russian Futurism that sought to break and destroy traditions (similar to Italian Futurism).
I know of three different kinds of propaganda machines the Soviets used. The first being in the form of graphic patriotic street bulletins known as the Rosta Windows that Lenin launched in 1918.
Next was the works from Constructivist artists that used geometric abstraction along with dynamic angles and view points, photomontage, cinema, abstract uses of light and contrast. The best example of this is “Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge” by El Lissitzky in 1920.
Finally there was Social Realism that became the dominant form of propaganda during the regime of Stalin up until the fall of the USSR. This form of work can still be seen today and is most notibly used in China. Scroll down to another blog of mine that shows some examples of Social Realism. It was a return to a more “conservative” representational image that the modernists rebelled against.
A good early example of Soviet Social Realism is work of Gustav Klutsis’s work that used photomontage but you can still see the modernist geometric simplifications that the constructivists used.
If you notice, the Constructivists works are probably the most “difficult” out of the propaganda bunch. Here are some more examples of works of the Constructivist movement. I do want to make note that it seems as time went on the constructivists went from strict geometric forms and abstration to using photo and photomontage in conjunction with the abstract forms. I am thinking this had to do with political regime changes. Eventually abstraction was dropped all together for the social realism that came eventually.