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Tatlin’s Reliefs: from Cubism to Abstraction
Andréi Nakov

Cracow 2020
257 x 200 mm, 372 pages
laminated hardback, 219 colour illustrations
ISBN 978-83-89831-37-8

Également disponible en version française Les reliefs de Tatline : du cubisme à l’abstraction

Price : 39.00 EUR   Add to cart

The creation of the first Non-Objective reliefs by Vladimir Tatlin in the years 1914–1915 has remained almost legendary, as, with a few exceptions, these works have been lost or destroyed. This is the reason most of them have come down to us solely through contemporary documents. Yet when first presented in Moscow, St Petersburg (1914 and 1915), Berlin (1922) and Amsterdam (1923), they were received with curiosity, interest and, in a few instances, rejection, for they signalled a real artistic revolution. They were subsequently overshadowed by the Monument to the Third International (1919–1920), an extraordinary utopian construction that Alfred Barr described in 1936 as “the most ambitious Constructivist work” of the century and which has fascinated generations of artists on both sides of the Atlantic during much of the 20th century.

This book discusses the history and significance of the first abstract reliefs and presents numerous hitherto unpublished documents and an interpretation that casts a new light on the history of modern art, both Russian (Malewicz, Popova, Exter and other artists) and Western (Boccioni or Brancusi). A special place is given to an examination of the Cubist sources (Picasso) that played a decisive role in the artist’s bold creative leap. This study of the origins of abstract sculpture is an innovative exploration of a crucial moment in modern art: the passage from Cubism to Abstraction.

 

The Slavic-born, French-educated art historian Andréi Nakov has organized major museum exhibitions in the last five decades: Berlin (1977), London (1976 and 1984), Frankfurt (1987), Tokyo (1988), Madrid (1989), Ottawa (2016) and elsewhere. Since 1972, his substantial studies on Futurism, Dada, Constructivism and especially the beginnings of abstract art (Kandinsky,Larionov, Mondrian, Kupka and Freundlich among others) have been published in French, German, English, Italian, Russian and other languages. His publications on the work and writings of Kazimir Malewicz (Paris 1975 and 2003, Stockholm 2010), a four-volume monograph (in French in 2007, English translation in 2010) and a Catalogue raisonné (Paris 2002) are regarded as authoritative works on this artist. His works on Constructivism began in 1972 with a French edition of the writings of Nikolai Tarabukin and the first posthumous monograph devoted to Aleksandra Exter. They were followed by the exhibition catalogue Tatlin’s Dream (London 1973), 2 Stenberg 2 (Paris–London–Toronto, 1975) and the exhibition catalogue Dada and Constructivism (Tokyo and Kamakura 1988, Madrid 1989). Several titles by Nakov have been translated and/or reprinted.
https://andrei-nakov.org/en/


I N T R O D U C T I O N
THE ILLUMINATIONS OF MODERNITY
Prologue
 
P A R T  I
GRADUS AD PARNASSUM

C H A P T E R  1
THE YEARS OF APPRENTICESHIP
Narcissistic wounds are not healed by the experience of the sea
Attending art schools
In Larionov’s footsteps
A passion for the stage
A growth by conceptual leaps
 
C H A P T E R  2
IN THE LABYRINTH OF MODERNITY
From “Purism” to Cubism
The Futurist catalyst
From the radicalness of the “picture plane” to the end of the “statuary”
The revolution of the analytical drawings
Liberating form from the constraints of mass
 
C H A P T E R  3
THE PICASSO YEAR AND CUBIST COMPETITIVENESS
The significance of the Symbolist heritage: the role of the theoretician Vladimir Markov
The precursor’s formalism of Tatlin’s fellow traveller, Vladimir Burljuk
An excess of theorizing
 
C H A P T E R  4
LIBERATING THE UNCONSCIOUS
Sculpture, painting’s poor relative
Breaking through the confines of mass
The barrier of abstraction: the limits of Parisian Cubism
 
C H A P T E R  5
BEYOND CUBISM
The mythical journey: Berlin and Paris
The visit to Picasso: a revelation and a confirmation
In the hub of modernism: strolling around Paris
 
P A R T  I I
THE ADVENT OF MATURITY
 
C H A P T E R  6
THE REVOLUTION OF MATERIALS
Catharsis
The first wave of reliefs: May 1914 to March 1915
The first relief surfaces
Reference to presumable sources
An Apollonian dialogue with Cubism
 
C H A P T E R  7
FROM COMPOSITION TO ASSEMBLAGE
From collage to assemblage
A rich poetic vein
Fantômas: a cinematographic digression
 
C H A P T E R  8
A SALVO OF RELIEFS: THE FIRST EXHIBITIONS OF 1915
The Year 1915 exhibition in Moscow
Tugendhold’s moralizing criticism
Replacing the whole with a part
The originality of relations between materials
A memory of the past
Retrospective excursus
 
C H A P T E R 9
THE CULMINATION OF AUTONOMOUS SCULPTURE
Visualizing poetry: Kamensky, Podgaevsky and other guerillas
Tramway V: the Rubicon of Non-Objective art
The evolution of Tatlin’s fellow combatants: Rozanova and Popova
 
C H A P T E R  1 0
THE SHOCK OF NON-OBJECTIVE MODERNISM: THE 0,10 EXHIBITION
A difficult modernist birth: realizing the 0,10 project
How the corner relief evolved
The dynamics of tension
The metaphysics of transparency
The first substantial comment on Tatlin’s reliefs
 
C H A P T E R  1 1
THE FAILURE OF THE SHOP EXHIBITION
An art exhibition can not be improvised
Conflict at the Shop exhibition
The Moscow rejection
Tugendhold’s “Picassian” hindrance
The dead-end of Cubism: interpretation and assimilation
Enthusiasm of the post-Tatlin “reliefists”
 
P A R T  I I I
ON THE CELESTIAL PATH:
COSMOGONY AND ARCHITECTURAL AUDACITY
 
C H A P T E R  1 2
IN THE WAKE OF KHLEBNIKOV’S COSMOGONY
The aftermath of “Studio No. 5”
An art derived from the reliefs
 
C H A P T E R  1 3
THE FLOWERING OF RELIEFS IN 1917–1922
The success of Café Pittoresque: the adoption of Tatlin by the Berlin Dadaists
The short-lived post-revolutionary Tatlin boom
 
C H A P T E R  1 4
THE ARCHITECTONIC APOTHEOSIS OF RELIEFS:
THE “TOWER” OF 1919 (MONUMENT TO THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL)
The programme of the Monument
The project
Function becomes form
Beyond the revolutionary ideology:
Katarzyna Kobro and spatial assertions of Non-Objective art
A nostalgic postscript
 
A P P E N D I X  I
TATLIN’S RELIEFS, ASSEMBLAGES AND PROJECTS FOR RELIEFS
 
A P P E N D I X  I I
NOTES REGARDING ATTRIBUTIONS
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