From the spiritual to the pragmatic: Constructivism

Nov 22, 2017 5:31PM

Constructivism is understood not only as a movement emerged in the second decade of the last century but as the beginning of an artistic revolution that still echoes in the new generations of artists.

Wassily Kandinsky. Síntesi Barcelona, 1935. Pochoir with tempera. 45.7 x 60 cm. Signed and dated. Photograph courtesy of Galería Odalys

Constructivism was born in parallel and, keeping its clear conceptual differences, in Russia and the Netherlands; it is evident his world transcendence and his sphere of influence on several artistic movements that followed it as it is the case of the Suprematism, Op-Art, Kinetic Art, Minimalism, Zero and more recently the Numerical Art (

In its beginnings the Russian Constructivist art arose from the need to eradicate any vestige of representation of the visible world and supposed the assignment of meanings and spiritual values to geometric shapes and colors.

Alexander Calder. Orange sun on red ground, 1963. Gouache on paper. 58 x 78 cm. Signed and dated. Photograph courtesy of Galería Odalys

According to Kandinsky, the circle represented perfection and achievements, the vertical lines the ascension to the spiritual while the horizontal lines associated with the material state of the elements that govern life. Warm colors such as red and yellow likewise assigned this material character to them while cold colors such as blue and gray gave them spiritual value.

With the passing of time, the sensory experience was imposed on the existential philosophies that constructivist art had in the beginning. The aesthetic appreciation of shapes and colors overlapped the social function of bringing our world closer to spiritual utopia.

Nicolas Schöffer. Lux 10, 1959. Stainless Steel, lights and electromechanic elements. 321 x 180 x 120 cm. Photograph courtesy of Galería Odalys

Op-Art and kinetics arise in this context, inviting the viewer to assume an active position in the experience of perceiving a work of art. It is no longer about seeing. It is to enter and be part of the work because the work is no longer an object but an experience. Object and spectator build the artwork.

With Zero, the elementary geometric forms and the pure colors assumed a preponderant role in the new awakening that followed to the euphoria of the Abstract Expressionism after the Second World War. The emotional serenity after the passionate chaos.

Constructivism directly influenced the purist aesthetics of Minimal Art emerged in the 1960s. The construction of cubes, parallelepipeds, spheres and cones monochrome and assisted with industrial production techniques aimed at the elimination of subjectivity in the finish of the work and located the intervention of the artist at the level of conceptual planning.

Sol Lewitt. Untitled, 1991. Silkscreen on paper. Ed.100. 122 x 122 cm. Signed downer right. Photograph courtesy of Galería Odalys

Numerical art, which has its roots in the cybernetic art of Nicolas Schöffer ( and Jean Tinguely, proposes through the use of digital and electromechanical resources to turn the relationship between object and audience into an Interactive experience. The public intervenes the work and the work mutates generating different perceptions in the spectator. The shapes and colors that excite the eye to achieve this range of perceptions are also based on constructivism.

From the Spiritual to the pragmatic, the constructivist art radically changed our perception of the Fine Arts. In the first instance, he freed painting from its representative function and erected the idea of ​​art for art's sake. The systematic elimination of those references to our reality allowed artists to liberate their creative spirit technically and conceptually, generating new realities that on many occasions changed our perception of the world in areas as diverse as architecture, theater or design.

Ronnie Saravo Sánchez

Art Curator/ Operation Manager

Galería Odalys