Utopia Ltd. Milner creates striking sculptures inspired by the geometric experiments of Soviet artists El Lissitzky and Aleksandr Rodchenko, and brings to life designs by Vladimir Tatlin and the pioneering graphic artist Gustavs Klucis.
GRAD: Gallery for Russian Arts and Design presents an exhibition of Soviet avant-garde
artwork reconstructed for a contemporary audience. Utopia Ltd takes the blueprints
for change laid down by the radical constructivist group and reimagines them in three
dimensions. model maker Henry milner creates striking sculptures inspired by the
geometric experiments of Soviet artists El Lissitzky and Aleksandr Rodchenko, and brings
to life designs by Vladimir Tatlin and the pioneering graphic artist Gustavs Klucis.
From the mathematical precision of Rodchenko’s Oval Hanging Construction to the dimensional exploration of Lissitzky’s New Man, milner brings together some of the most compelling artists from this incredible period of artistic innovation. Despite the gulf of time between their conception and milner’s reined sculptural forms, his work still shares the spirit in which they were conceived. Where the constructivists advocated for collaboration and momentum in their work, milner accepts their open invitation to continue and experiment with forms and materials.
Occupying the new gallery space at GRAD, just of Oxford Street, London, is a detailed lying machine of impossible ambition; its fragile structure bound by a skeletal frame, lutes and curves with avian symmetry. Inspired by anatomical study of seabirds, the founding father of Russian constructivism, Vladimir Tatlin designed the Letatlin to fuse man and machine in one luid unit, epitomising the igure of the Soviet artist-as- engineer. Another of Tatlin’s utopian visions constructed in painstaking detail by milner at GRAD, is the hugely inluential Tatlin’s Tower or Monument to the Third International. conceived as the headquarters of communist world government, this mammoth feat of engineering, 400 m in height, would allow the three sections of the structure to revolve independently, and although it was never built in reality, the idea has assumed a ubiquity that has seen countless revisions and reconstructions over the last century. milner’s tower marks the irst faithful reconstruction of Tatlin’s inal reined design of 1925, the most accurate embodiment of this revolutionary monument.
Curated by courtauld Professor of 20th century Russian Art, John milner, and GRAD’s Principal curator, Elena Sudakova, Utopia Ltd is also the irst signiicant UK presentation of work by Gustavs Klucis, the youngest of the constructivists. Klucis upheld the principles of Soviet modernism, aspiring to a functional and revisionary use of design and public artwork to promote the communist agenda. He developed a style that crossed mediums from paint to architecture, united by the eloquence of pure geometric form. His visionary designs for multi-media public address systems, combining print, projection, radio and live oratory platforms, preceded Western developments in this ield by decades. Klucis introduced a devotion to practical aestheticism that today remains the principal tenet of contemporary product design. Transposing these visions into pieces such as After Klucis, Henry milner relects the transition the constructivists introduced to the course of modern art and design.
Combining milner’s ‘retro-engineered’ sculptures with his source materials, prints, and documentary ilm and photography from the period, Utopia Ltd. immerses the viewer in the spirit of revolution. by showing these works constructed in three dimensions GRAD’s latest exhibition advances the constructivists’ objective to reassess the visual culture we engage with daily, bringing a contemporary perspective to their original body of work.
GRAD is an enterprising not-for-proit gallery exhibiting Russian art in central London, including rarely seen graphic arts and other works from Russian collections, as well as specially commissioned pieces. The gallery presents exhibitions in collaboration with international co-curators, accompanied by seminars dedicated to academic and curatorial developments in Russian Art studies from the early 20th century to the present day.
Image: Gustavs Klucis, Design for a Stand with Rotating Slogan: Workers of the World Unite, 1922. courtesy GRAD: Gallery for Russian Arts and Design
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Private view and Reception: Friday 20 September 2013, 6.30pm – 8.30pm
GRAD: Gallery for Russian Arts and Design
3-4a Little Portland Street London W1W 7Jb
The gallery is open Tue-Fri 11am – 7pm, Sat 11 am – 5pm.