In the feedback given to me for my first Art of Photography assignment I was given a couple of photographers of the contstructivism movement, namely one of its founders Alexander Rodchenko and a photographer who was highly influenced by it, László Moholy-Nagy.
Contstructivism is a post World War 1 philosophy based on russian futurism, it was developed at VKhUTEMAS, art and design school in Moscow during the early 1920’s and after much debate it was defined as a combination of faktura and tetonika, the particular material properties of an object and its spatial presence respectively. While initially it was based further on the works of three dimensions it was then expanded to include two dimensional materials like books or posters. Taking a very basic look at the design and make up of a constructivist image be it, photography or graphic art posters I see a very strong connection with modern art photography, the use of bold geometric shapes, contrasting colours and especially in something consumer facing, as it was meant to originally a bold and often harsh text.
With this image, bearing the original from from the previous, we see a prime example of some of Rodchenko’s work. As you can see it is made by a rather limited pallet of colours and photo montage. These techniques and design styles are carried throughout the movement with Rodchenko’s work being highly influential on graphic designers.
László Moholy-Nagy is a Hungarian painter and photographer, not only was he highly influenced by the constructivism philosophy he was also a professor in the Bauhaus School. His photography was an interesting and at times obvious reflection of constructivism I particularly enjoy his use of shadows to create the strong eye-catching image, while the different perspectives captured really show an understanding of lines and depth which in turn create thought provoking imagery that in parts make you think.
This first image by László Moholy-Nagy called Dolls, 1926 is a perfect example of the use of shadow, tonal range and composition that suits the constructavism philosophy of basing images and art work around a basic pallet of colours, a stark composition and in Lázlós case here the bold shadows to add a realism to the abstract focal point of the dolls. I like the impact this image has on the viewer, the interest is compelling while still being dark both in subject and look.
This image taken by myself at the British museum is an example of an image of my own that is in a way similar to László Moholy-Nagy above. The use of shadows however vary in that mine is perhaps a focal point of the image, rather than in previous images use of it as a tool to add to the striking dolls. However my image itself has constructavism connections in it is a bold and striking image that uses a basic pallet of colours, be them in the case black and white, but the tonal range itself is rather controlled and compact.
From my research into Alexander Rodchenko & László Moholy-Nagy and the constructavism philosophy I have learnt a great deal about a movement previously unknown to myself and one that I personally hold great interest in the style and effect it produces. The understanding I have taken from the philosophy as a whole corresponds accurately with the premise of the second assignment in Art of Photography, the primitive and basic use of lines, shapes, curves and patters in constructavism, which in this case are used to emphasise in bold arrangements and colour schemes. In the assignment we are looking at each element in a more stripped back way, looking at the individual elements separately and with the use of a single subject throughout. I have found by looking at the work of the movement in general and especially the works of Rodchenko & Moholy-Nagy that the essence of this style is to deconstruct a subject in to the elements of design to see the potential and visualise them like that when planning and photographing. I found this approach focused the composition around the elements whilst still not neglecting the overall aesthetics of the image.
- Analysing Compositions – László Moholy-Nagy (phoxesfotos.wordpress.com)
- Constructivism (beckharpin.wordpress.com)