New East Digital Archive

Unbuilt avant-garde constructions brought to life in London exhibition

17 September 2013
Image Courtesy of GRAD

Unbuilt Soviet avant-garde constructions are to be brought to life in an exhibition opening this week at GRAD: Gallery for Russian Arts and Design in London.

Utopia Ltd is to recreate artworks from original designs by radical early twentieth-century Constructivist artists. Among the sculptures recreated by model maker Henry Milner are geometric experiments by Soviet artists, such as El Lissitzky’s New Man — a human figured reintepreted geometrically, which features here in the form of 3D model and in sketches — and Alexander Rodchenko’s Oval Hanging Construction, a metal installation of concentric ellipses.

Inspired by anatomical studies of seabirds, Vladimir Tatlin’s flying machine Letatlin is a fragile skeletal frame that fuses man and machine into a fluid unit which visually reiterates the notion, popular in the early Soviet Union, of the artist as engineer. The exhibition also features the work of Gustav Klucis, the youngest Constructivist artist, whose work encompassed different mediums from paint to architecture, including print and projections, but which always retained a focus on the purity of geometric form.

The show combines Milner’s sculptures with source materials, prints, film and photography from the period that immerses the viewer in the atmosphere of the revolution.

Milner specialises in making lost and unbuilt works using archive data. He has brought to life several works by other Russian avant-garde artists, including Konstantin Melnikov’s Soviet Pavilion at the Paris International Exhibition of Decorative Arts, and 1925, a project for the 2007 London exhibition A Slap in the Face: Futurists in Russia.

Utopia Ltd runs at GRAD in London from 21 September to 20 December 2013.