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Call of the Avant-Garde: Constructivism and Australian Art.

 Removed from our own very Gallery in Abbotsford, we are forever frequenting The Heide Museum of Modern Art. With every visit, we become even more so enchanted by Heide MOMA. 

Beginning life in 1934 as the home of John and Sunday Reed, Heidi nurtured circles of artists, writers and intellectuals such as Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Joy Hester, John Perceval and Danila Vassilieff.

The fifteen acre property has since evolved into one of Australia’s most important cultural institutions. Heide MOMA presents a space for contemporary art, literature, conversation, connection, sharing and friendship.

Recently we viewed: Call of the Avant-Garde: Constructivism and Australian Art. So we ask, What is Constructivism? And how has this movement impacted Australian Art?

George Johnson, Construction With Brown Triangle 1986

Constructivism is nonrepresentational style of art developed by a group of Russian artists, in response to the social and political nuances of The Russian Revolution [1917]. Lead by Vladimir Tatlin, this group presented art as an approachable everyday idea, rather than a unique commodity. Employing modern industrial materials and abstract forms to explore mass, volume and space, these artists sought to ‘construct’ art, and engage with it!

Constructivism called upon geometry, colour and line to unite art and life.

Ralph Balson, Constructive Painting, 1963

This artistic experiment quickly travelled throughout Europe, eventually reaching Australia. International Constructivism pervaded architecture, graphic design, industrial design, theatre, film, dance and fashion. And of course, art. Modern art movements of the 20th century grew from International Constructivism, particularly Bauhaus and De Stijl trends.

Zoe Croggon, Harp no.2, 2015

Co-curators, Sure Cramer and Lesley Harding trace the influence of Constructivism on Australian painters and sculptors throughout the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, as well as in later, contemporary times.

Considering that Constructivism sought to explore ideas across all art forms, the exhibition presents painting, sculpture, videography, photography, graphic arts, theatre and costume.

“We’ve tried to convey that it’s a very mobile movement,” says Lesley Harding. “It never stays still. It’s international and intergenerational.”

On view are works by Russian Constructivists: Rodchenko, Malevich, El Lissitzky and Alexandra Exter. British Artists: Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth. Australian Artists: Ralph Balson, Frank Hinder, Inge King, Gunter Christmann, George Johnson, Robert Owen, Rose Nolan, Justene Williams and Zoë Croggon.

Sure Cramer encourages visitors to consider “how art might function in the world and interact with the everyday.” 

 

Heide Museum of Modern Art | 7 Templestowe Rd, Bulleen VIC 3105.
Hours | Tuesday – Sunday – 10 am – 5 pm.
On View |  5 July – 8 October 2017.

 

Further Reading –

Heidi Gallery | Call of the Avant-Garde: Constructivism and Australian Art

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