Post-Modern Constructivism

Gustav Klutsis, Under the Banner of Lenin – Socialist Construction 1930


Barbara Kruger – Untitled (Your body is a battleground), 1989, photographic silkscreen

Under the Banner of Lenin was made by Gustav Klutsis as a source of propaganda for Stalin’s Communist party. He was a Russian Constructivist, inspired by Dadaism. using photomontage and type in a controlled form of chaos. Klutsis was given the job to make propaganda for the Communist party. He used photomontage to glorify the leaders, Lenin and Stalin. Stalin was not very fond of the avant-garde art style, so Klutsis made big strides to appeal to him. Klutsis truly felt that photomontage was the purest form of art that was fit to display the ideals of communist society.

Barbara Kruger was a feminist artist that focused on activism in her work. In the 80s she developed posters as forms of protest and social activism. By converting the language of advertising, dramatic photos with strong slogans, into protest art. Utilizing black and white photography with bold italic Futura font, and red rulers, she explores commentary on gender roles and social power in America.

The agitating methods of Russian Constructivism produce striking imagery that demand to be seen. Kruger’s work takes those striking elements, black and white photography with bold text and bold red accents, as a source of attention grabbing. Her activism is a form of protest where she forces the message to be seen. She follows geometric compositional alignments, grid or diagonal, slightly similar to the style of text placement in constructivism, although not completely similar. The style of the font are visually similar, in their bold and legible style. Kruger is able to take the elements once associated with communist revolution and use them to her advantage to produce forms of striking social activism of the modern era.

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