Soviet Graphic Design

You may remember that we covered the permanent Plasticarium exhibition at the Atomium in Brussels back in Issue 20 of VE. Well, the Art & Design Atomium Museum (ADAM) also holds regular temporary exhibitions; and for four months – starting 5th June – it welcomes the Moscow Design Museum’s unique exhibition: The Paper Revolution. Soviet Graphic Design and Constructivism (1920 – 1930s) dedicated to one of the most outstanding art phenomenons of the 20th century.

The Moscow Design Museum was founded in 2012 and is the first cultural institution in Russia specfically dedicated to design. The museum collects and preserves Russia’s design heritage, helping to popularise it at home and abroad. This exhibition is organised in partnership with the Ne boltai! Collection and will mark the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution of 1917.

During its first decade, Soviet Russia, a young revolutionary state, needed its own visual language. A new artistic movement spawned from this and was named Constructivism. Posters, magazine and book covers became the main propaganda tool of the new political regime. Constructivist artists declared the end of traditional art and proclaimed the beginning of a new era.

The objective of the Constructivist revolution was to change the role of the artist and to make him/her a creator of the new materialistic world, a constructor of new things. Nevertheless, consumers were not prepared for the minimalistic furniture projects, household goods and clothes. No one was willing to pay for an art form made into everyday objects, so the aesthetic revolution lived mostly on paper.

Graphic design created by constructivist artists depicted and reflected their time and aspirations and became the only area where designers could apply their innovative ideas creating covers for books, magazines and posters.

The exhibition will feature examples of graphic design in posters, books, magazines, postcards, sketches and packaging made by outstanding artists such as Alexander Rodchenko, Varvara Stepanova, Gustav Klutsis, Vladimir & Georgii Stenberg, El Lissitzky, Sergei Senkin, Aleksei Gan, Valentina Kulagina, Anton Lavinsky and many others.

Dates 5th June to 8th October 2017, at the ADAM, Design Museum Brussels. Open every day, except Tuesdays, 10am-6pm. Last entry 5.30pm. Admission: six euros. www.adamuseum.be


1. Vladimir Nevsky (1876 – 1937) Lenin. Supplement cover in the newspaper Construction (Postrojka), 1928. ©Moscow Design Museum collection

1. Vladimir Nevsky (1876 – 1937) Lenin. Supplement cover in the newspaper Construction (Postrojka), 1928. ©Moscow Design Museum collection

2. El Lissitzky (1890 –1941) 1st Russian Art Exhibition catalogue, 1922.©Ne boltai! Collection, Prague

2. El Lissitzky (1890 –1941) 1st Russian Art Exhibition catalogue, 1922.©Ne boltai! Collection, Prague

3. Valentina Kulagina (1902-1987) Poster For the Defence of USSR (Naoboronu SSSR), 1930. ©Ne boltai! Collection, Prague

3. Valentina Kulagina (1902-1987) Poster For the Defence of USSR (Naoboronu SSSR), 1930. ©Ne boltai! Collection, Prague

4. Vasily Kamensky (1884-1961)  Book cover: Youth of Mayakovsky (Younost Mayakovskogo). Cover: Konstantin Bor Ramensky (1900–1942), 1931. ©Ne boltai! Collection

4. Vasily Kamensky (1884-1961)  Book cover: Youth of Mayakovsky (Younost Mayakovskogo). Cover: Konstantin Bor Ramensky (1900–1942), 1931. ©Ne boltai! Collection

5. Aleksandr Rodchenko (1891—1956) Poster, Lengiz (Leningrad State Publishing Company) Books in All Fields of Knowledge (Lengiz - Knigi po vsem otrasliam znaniya). Reconstruction of Varvara Rodchenko in 1964. Printed in 1989.  ©The Rodchenko and Stepanova Archive

5. Aleksandr Rodchenko (1891—1956) Poster, Lengiz (Leningrad State Publishing Company) Books in All Fields of Knowledge (Lengiz - Knigi po vsem otrasliam znaniya). Reconstruction of Varvara Rodchenko in 1964. Printed in 1989.  ©The Rodchenko and Stepanova Archive

6. Gustav Klutsis (1895-1938) Photomontage for magazine Molodaya Gvardiya. Lenin is Standing on the Border of Two Epochs in Development of Humankind (Lenin stoit na grani dvukh epokh v razvitii chelovechestva), 1924. ©Ne boltai! Collection, Prague

6. Gustav Klutsis (1895-1938) Photomontage for magazine Molodaya Gvardiya. Lenin is Standing on the Border of Two Epochs in Development of Humankind (Lenin stoit na grani dvukh epokh v razvitii chelovechestva), 1924. ©Ne boltai! Collection, Prague

7. Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930) Book cover About this (Pro eto). Cover: Aleksandr Rodchenko (1891—1956), 1923. ©The Rodchenko and Stepanova Archive

7. Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930) Book cover About this (Pro eto). Cover: Aleksandr Rodchenko (1891—1956), 1923. ©The Rodchenko and Stepanova Archive