rodchenko, spatial construction 12, 1920


Aleksandr Rodchenko created Spatial Construction no. 12 in 1920. This is one of many sculptures crafted during the Constructivist period in Russia. The Constructivists wanted to make them known as artists that were talented in various elements than that of just artworks and paintings. Constructivists wanted to express their talents through creating diverse forms of art that heavily related to the things of everyday life. Most works of art included various geometric relations or the illusion of three-dimension, where the work seems to pop out of the canvas. Constructivists wanted their art to extend beyond the borders and depict a sense of infinity. Rodchenko was one of the founders of the Constructivism movement and was a strong believer in the qualities of art that Constructivism would improve and modernize. Although there were a lot of Constructivist characteristics that possibly improved art, Rodchenko creates Spatial Construction no. 12 to express the use of geometry and the idea of infinity.

Spatial Construction no. 12 was a part of many sculptures created by Rodchenko during his works called spatial constructions or “Raumkonstruktionen.”[1] He had Raumkonstruktionen separated into three sections and this particular sculpture was involved with the second phase of the series known as “on the Principle of Equal Forms” of “Surfaces Reflecting Light.”[2] He used the philosophy of geometric combination to create an exceptional and unified work of art. Spatial Construction no. 12 utilizes the geometric circle and is composed of circles with various sizes that are twisted but inside of one another. Drawing a perfect circle without the use of a mathematical tool is very difficult to configure which makes it unique. Rodchenko used different forms of math and mathematical tools in his works during the Constructivist era. This was to ensure that artist could be known as more than only an artist, but as a creator, carpenter, or someone with talents in various areas. Also with this Rodchenko design, it was not a painting but sculpture. Thus, the geometry is brought to reality and if spun, the sculpture would form a sphere if spun intensely. The sphere is a circle in three-dimensions and, therefore, accomplishes an idea that the Constructivist stood behind, the idea of bringing art to a reality. To Constructivist, geometry was something that brought their works closer to reality and also showed others that they were talented in an area other that just painting. With this the circle showed perfection, the sense of reality, and also showed the effects of being infinite.

Since, Spatial Construction no. 12 was a sculpture, the work wasn’t bounded by a canvas and considered boundless. There was no canvas to depict the three-dimensional illusion, however, Rodchenko utilizes the twisting of the various circles to indicate a three-dimension feel rather than having all the circles within one another and lining up sequentially.  Circles are infinite and using various sizes of them illustrates many infinities.

Spatial Construction no. 12 was also a hanging sculpture, which meant that it was bounded to anything, but the space surrounding it and was allowed to spin upon free will from its surroundings. Another sensation of infinity arrives from the different alignments of the various circles. This portrays that if infinite circles were added then those circle would be arranged in infinitely many directions.

The sculpture was created from plywood with aluminum wire and paint. To Constructivists, this was an example of bringing the artwork towards reality and using other materials than only paint. Rodchenko used industrial products, which could be flatten, easily transported, and handled, to construct all products within the series of “Raumkonstruktionen.”

Rodchenko’s Spatial Construction no. 12 brought in various characteristics from Constructivism. It displays an illusion of a realistic artwork, descriptions of infinity, usage of irregular art materials, and the usage of talents outside of art. Rodchenko’s mind allows him to combine various elements into one to create his masterpieces and series of masterpieces. His unique mind and exceptional talents are that of what Constructivism pursued and a reason why he is one of the founding fathers of Constructivism.

[1] Aleksandr Mikhailovic Rodchenko, Alexander Rodchenko: Spatial Constructions = Raumkonstruktionen (Hatje Cantz Verlag: ERSCHIENEN IM, 2002).

[2] Rodchenko, Alexander Rodchenko.

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