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First exhibition to examine the influence of Constructivism on Australian art on view in Melbourne
Gunter Christmann, Red/Green Cross, 1966. Oil on composition board, 122 x 122 cm, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Purchased 1992© Estate of Gunter Christmann and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne.

MELBOURNE.- For more than one hundred years, artists have drawn inspiration from the early twentieth-century avant-garde movement Constructivism. Originating in Russia in the years immediately before and after the 1917 revolution, then spreading to places throughout the world, Constructivism’s abstract forms, utopian ideals and vision of art’s vital role in building a new society have continued to act as a beacon for artists of successive generations in many countries.

This extensive survey (over 200 works across three galleries) explores how Australian visual artists have responded to this ground breaking modernist movement, and reveals its enduring call upon their imaginations from the 1930s to the present day. The excitement of new formal discoveries, the integration of ideas across the various art forms, and the strong role taken by women artists who, unusually for the time, were considered equal to the men, are just some of the inspiring features of Russian Constructivism that continue to resonate today.

“We have a fascinating story to tell across generations of Australian artists, who still find the innovative and optimistic period of Russian Constructivism incredibly inspiring,” Heide Museum of Modern Art curator Sue Cramer said.

The exhibition is the third in a series that surveys Australia's contribution to key modernist art movements with previous exhibitions Cubism and Australian Art (2009–10) and Less is More: Minimal and Post Minimal Art in Australia (2012).

In keeping with the versatility of Constructivist artists whose work typically ranged across mediums, the display includes painting and sculpture, video and photography, textiles, the graphic arts as well as stage and costume design by visual artists. Works by Australian artists including Ralph Balson, Inge King, Robert Owen, Rose Nolan and Zoe Croggon, are being shown alongside those by British Constructivists Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth, and key proponents from the original Russian movement like Alexander Rodchenko, Alexandra Exter and El Lissitzky.

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