The Constructivists

Not only at the Bauhaus did groups of artists join together to develop works which fit neither the Expressionist nor the Surrealistic art movements. In the 1920s, every European center had artist colonies which actively confronted the historic romance and glorification of art with a new clarity and directness.

Throughout recorded time, there have been artistic styles containing Constructivist elements, for example those of the Renaissance or Jugendstil. In the time between the two world wars, however, geometry appeared as the dominant design technique, a pure form to communicate the new content of art.


The Pioneers
The point of departure for this new Constructivist era can be found in 1910 in pre-Revolutionary Russia. Kasimir Malewitsch was working on the “Icons of the 20th Century” as an abstract, geometric work: a black square on a white background (1913), a black circle on a white background, and in 1918 a white square against a white background.


El Lissitzky: pages from a Majakowski volume, 1929

Such pioneering efforts were (and are) criticized by some, ecstatically welcomed by others. Among the supporters were the artists El Lissitzky, Naum Gabo, and Antoine Pevsner. Artistic groups formed, split, and formed splinter groups. In the turbulence of the years 1917–1919, Rodschenko and Tatlin declared Constructivism in support of the revolution, production of art for the people. This resulted in an abundance of experiments in the areas of theater, architecture, product design, representational graphics and typography.


Alexander Rodschenko: advertisement flyer for
GUM state department store, 1923

The success of the October Revolution quickly spread Constructivist ideas to other countries, where there was often a pre-existing basis of similar thought.

The first Constructivist exhibition opened in Poland in 1923: Henryk Stazewski, Wladislaw Strzeminski, Myeczyslaw Szczuka and Henryk Berlewi were the leading artists, dealing with issues of advertisement and typography.


Wladyslaw Strzeminsky: page from a volume of poetry, 1926

more ... The Bauhaus


Take a look at a selection of typefaces with an constructivist origin, offered by Linotype:

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ITC Avant Garde Gothic® font family (ITC Library)
Avenida™ font family (ITC Library)
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Cirkulus™ font family (ITC Library)
ITC Conduit® font family (ITC Library)
Erbar® font family (Assorted Collection)
Iwan Stencil™ font family (Linotype Originals)
Kabel® font family (Linotype Originals)
Pump™ font family (ITC Library)