The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Friday, April 20, 2018

Museum Tinguely dedicates exhibition to one of the most important figures of the Russian Avant-garde
Vladimir Tatlin, Sailor (self-portrait), 1911. State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg © photo: 2012, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg.

BASEL.- This year the Museum Tinguely in Basel is dedicating its large summer exhibition to one of the most important figures of the Russian avantgarde: Vladimir Tatlin (1885–1953). It is now almost twenty years since the last comprehensive retrospective to be devoted to this radically innovative artist. The presented works will include early paintings, counter-reliefs that reach out into the surrounding space, reconstructions of his revolutionary tower, and the flying machine Letatlin. The exhibition is rounded off with examples of his work for the theatre. The oeuvre of this outstanding artist from the watershed period at the beginning of the twentieth century will be represented in over one hundred masterpieces, mostly on loan from major collections in Moscow and St Petersburg.

Vladimir Tatlin began his career as a seaman. Until 1913 his artistic activities were limited exclusively to painting and drawing. Interested in the traditional fields of icon-painting and folk art, he later transferred his attention to the most modern avant-garde trends in Russia and Western Europe, more precisely Paris. His entire later work is founded on painting. The exhibition will show a comprehensive selection of his early paintings with their bold expanses of colour, rhythmic curves, and striking use of dark and light outlines. In these eye-catching works Tatlin achieved a highly original synthesis of the Russian tradition and the French avant-garde.

In the year 1914, Tatlin changed from being an avant-garde painter to being a revolutionary artist: there was already a sense of what was to come in 1917. Only little has been preserved of his painterly reliefs and the counter-reliefs. These works, produced before the October Revolution, constitute his most radical and far-reaching contribution to modern art. In the exhibition the few still existing originals from Moscow and St Petersburg are complemented with a representative selection of the reconstructions made on the basis of photographs, thus shedding light on this crucial aspect in the history of art. Tatlin’s counter-reliefs, with which he aimed to effect a total break with the bourgeois art world in all its forms, are to be understood as a “contre-attaque” in the sense of an increase in energy. As Konstantin Umansky wrote in 1920, “Tatlinism” claimed that the picture as such was dead: “The flat canvas is too restricted for what is three-dimensional.”

In Tatlin’s words of 1920: “We no longer believe in the eye: we are subordinating the eye to the sense of touch.” His counter-reliefs shook painting to its foundations and at the same time created a new understanding of artistic material. In them Tatlin worked like a poet with his materials, which he liberated from their function of representation. Characteristic of his art is a finely calculated economy of means. Tatlin’s counter-reliefs all have something of the nature of a happening. They give an impression of floating in a state of high tension. Rather than standing on any particular point, they are suspended in a rigging that replaces the plinth of earlier statues. The compositional principle contains a clear anti-static component: what is presented is a game between gravity and the negation of gravity. These works are all about distance, about the space in between, a space that is at once real and yet situated in the realm of the imagination. In literally material terms, Tatlin shifts his art into the sphere of the here-and-now; by experimenting with sculptural forms he generates the present.

Revolution, architecture and utopia – Tatlin’s tower
Few twentieth-century works of art have acquired such a legendary status as Tatlin’s projected Monument to the Third International of 1919–20, which was to have been 400 metres tall. For various reasons – Civil War, lack of material resources, and the technological limitations of the time – it was never realized. The monument – set parallel to the earth’s axis with four inner bodies rotating each on its own axis at various speeds in accordance with cosmological rhythms and laws – would have been the seat of the hierarchically and justly organized government of a new social order. The rotating spatial bodies of Tatlin’s “world machine” are indicative of revolution in both senses of the word. In 1920 Nikolai Punin praised the design as “an international event within the world of art” and saw it as “the organic synthesis of the principles of architecture, sculpture and painting.” Had it been built, the tower would have represented the logical extension of the principles of time and space developed in Tatlin’s counter-reliefs, and would have made possible a new experience of space in certain senses not dissimilar to that of flying. Tatlin’s tower project acted as a catalyst in the discussion conducted by figures such as Leon Trotsky and Anatoly Lunacharsky about how life, art and the state were to function in the young post-revolutionary Soviet Union; now it ranks as an inspirational and interpretational work of the highest order. In the course of the rediscovery of Tatlin’s oeuvre since the 1960s, the lost model of the tower has been reconstructed in a number of different variants. The exhibition in Basel is to juxtapose the two most outstanding examples – from Moscow and Paris – and bring them into dialogue. This spectacular presentation will generate illuminating insights into the way Tatlin’s work has been received and will help visitors to understand the factors that led to its creation.

The flight of the Letatlin
The 1920s saw Tatlin engaging in a search for new dimensions in human flight. In 1929/32 he gave expression to the dreams of a collectively regulated society with his visionary flying machine Letatlin. With his strong penchant for mysticism, Tatlin considered that flying was a kind of primordial human experience lost in the course of evolution and wished to reappropriate it for modern man. Letatlin – a flying machine displaying a remarkable synthesis of art, technology and utopia – can be regarded as the culmination and end result of the exploration of the scope and limits of sculpture that the artist began in Tsarist times with his counter-reliefs and raised onto a monumental scale with the revolutionary tower model. Tatlin’s highly suggestive flying sculpture can be interpreted variously as a metaphor for acceleration, a vehicle for extending the imagination, or a deus ex machina of modernism. However we interpret it, Tatlin’s dream of flying was to remain unfulfilled – even today, Letatlin has not yet left the ground.

The theatre as the stage of the new world
Tatlin had a life-long interest in theatre. He was a passionate admirer of Richard Wagner’s opera The Flying Dutchman, with which his own life had certain elements in common. Tatlin took its gripping musical sea- and soul-scapes and attempted to match them with a late Romantic Rayonist painted equivalent, taking tone colour and translating it into colour combinations full of drama and life. The peak of Tatlin’s creative work for the theatre came in 1923 with his staging of Velimir Chlebnikov’s futuristic super saga Zangezi. Tatlin decided “to juxtapose the word constructions with a material construction.” For Tatlin the linguistic material of poetry and the materials of visual art were two articulations of the same world energy. The fascination of his avant-gardistic experiment with Zangezi lay in the synesthetic correspondences he discovered between sounds, colours, textures and light.

Today Tatlin still retains his power to fascinate because his work was always done in the light of the total social context and with the intention of bringing about change. Furthermore, almost a century ago, he paved the way for currents that have still not lost their relevance and power to inspire in the field of contemporary art. Tatlin had no fear of stepping beyond the bounds of his field and liked to work collectively. He was a master of inter-disciplinarity and synthesis, in the art of bringing things and materials together, and of techniques and forms of presentation that were entirely unprecedented in his day.

Today's News

June 18, 2012

Magnificent and encompassing assembly of Post-war & Contemporary art at Sotheby's

Art 43 Basel: Extraordinary quality translates into strong sales; attracts more than 65,000 visitors

Twelfth edition of Master Drawings London taking place between 27 June-5 July

Peabody Essex Museum's Ansel Adams exhibition includes rare objects and images never before seen

Hyde Collection opens concurrent exhibitions featuring the work by Stephen Knapp and Tiffany Studios

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, 20/21 British Art Fair will take place from 12-16 September

Museum Tinguely dedicates exhibition to one of the most important figures of the Russian Avant-garde

Jerry Weist collection of sci-fi and fantasy art leads Heritage Auctions summer illustration event

Arte Primitivo announces Fine Pre-Columbian and Tribal Art, Classical and Asian Antiquities auction

A local think tank with a global perspective: BMW Guggenheim Lab opens in Berlin

Arcade/Arcadia, an installation by Ellen Harvey on view at Locks Gallery in Philadelphia

Penumbra: A new exhibition by Danja Akulin opens at Erarta Galleries London

Institute of Contemporary Arts presents the UK premiere of Bruce Nauman's Days, a sound installation

Exhibition of moving 3D images by Jeff Robb on view at Hay Hill Gallery

Architect Moshe Safdie selected to design tallest residential building in Colombo

South Carolina library shows 'Catch-22' author's writing tools

Zone of Contention: The U.S./Mexico Border examined in exhibition at the Weatherspoon Art Museum

Artist faces wreckage of sandy NY tall ship

Most extensive exhibition to date of works by the British artist Hilary Lloyd at Kunstmuseum Basel

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- John Surtees' one-owner 1957 BMW 507 to be offered for the first time at Bonhams Festival of Speed sale

2.- Antiques looted in Libya by IS sold in Spain, two experts arrested

3.- The world's oldest bridge to be preserved by the British Museum's Iraq Scheme

4.- Exquisite jewels dazzle in historic Cartier exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia

5.- Now showing in US cinemas: "Hitler VS Picasso and The Others" directed by Claudio Poli

6.- New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art returns stolen idols to Nepal

7.- Glasgow starts a year of celebration as Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibition opens

8.- Very rare Qing Dynasty bowl sells for $30.4 million

9.- Gardner Museum publishes "Stolen" book about 13 works in 1990 theft

10.- Royal Ontario Museum announces appointment of Curator, Islamic Art & Culture

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful