Space Force Construction
Soviet Art Put to the Test

Alexander Rodchenko. Workers’ Club, International Exposition of Modern Decorative and In-dustrial Arts, Paris, 1925, replica constructed 2017, Wood. Produced by V–A–C Foundation. Installation View, Space Force Construction. Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani.

The October Revolution of 1917 changed the course of world history; it also turned Russia into a showcase filled with models. Every object and sphere of activity had to demonstrate how society could be remade according to revolutionary principles. It would take intensive experimentation and discussion to determine the shape of this unprecedented society. To be realized in any concrete way, communism had to be modeled and put on display.

Space Force Construction / Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Test, whose earlier iteration was on view at this year’s Venice Biennale, fills Regenstein Hall at the Art Institute of Chicago with ten model displays from the early Soviet era. Each of these sections, detailed below, holds rare works of art and features expert, life-size reconstructions of early Soviet display objects or spaces, commissioned especially for this exhibition.

 

El Lissitzky Room for Constructive Art, Internationale Kunstausstellung (International Art Exhibition), Dresden, 1926. Florian Pumhösl Relief I-V (for Dresden Raum), 2016-17

Wolfgang Tillmans, The State We’re In, A. 2015, Inkjet print on paper. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York, Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin, and Maureen Paley, London.

Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Surrounded), 2017. Printed vinyl. Courtesy the artist, Sprüth Magers and Mary Boone Gallery.

Battleground: Posters from the Civil War years (1918–21) surround a “Lenin Wall” with three dozen works devoted to the first Soviet leader.

School: Rare works from Soviet art schools convey breakthroughs in abstraction. Many loans come from the storied Costakis art collection in Thessaloniki, Greece.

Theater: Model sets, props, and drawings bring to life classic Constructivist stagings that merged viewers and performers in a mass spectacle.

Press: A 14-foot multimedia kiosk built from a design by artist Gustav Klutsis and a suite of his original drawings anchor an extensive display of rare magazines and unique poster maquettes.

Factory: A 30-foot-long Workers’ Club designed by Alexander Rodchenko can be entered to see period books and magazines.

Exhibition: A reconstructed 1926 exhibition room by El Lissitzky features paintings by artists included in the original exhibition, among them Piet Mondrian, Francis Picabia, and Lissitzky himself.

Festival: A period model for Stalin’s Palace of the Soviets joins photographs of mass sports events and commemorative gatherings.

Cinema: A rotating program of Soviet cartoons and documentaries is shown in a space that evokes an agitprop train.

Storefront: Large picture windows showcase textiles, Constructivist advertisements, and Suprematist porcelain.

Home: Personal images of leading Soviet artists, porcelain figurines, and a painting by Socialist Realist Aleksandr Deineka populate a model interior also outfitted with furniture conceived for small or collective apartments.

 

Irina Korina / The Hall of Columns, 2017

Ivan Erofeev

Melvin Edwards / El Lissitzky

These ten displays—containing nearly 550 works—come together in the largest exhibition of Soviet art to take place in the United States in 25 years. Visitors have the opportunity to explore the trajectory of early Soviet art in all its forms and consider what it tells us about socially minded art now.

Organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and the V-A-C Foundation. Major support is provided by Caryn and King Harris, The Harris Family Foundation. Additional funding is contributed by Constance R. Caplan, Karen and Jim Frank, and the Tawani Foundation.

 

Space Force Construction / Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia!
Soviet Art Put to the Test
Art Institute of Chicago / Regenstein Hall
October 29, 2017–January 15, 2018
For more information, please visit the exhibition page >

Dalton Paula: Portraits
Jul 29 – Oct 30, 2022
Dalton Paula works in painting, drawing, video, performance and sculpture around Afro-Brazilian histories and experiences. This exhibition focus in...
+
ARTPIL / Prescription .130
The Summer's End
The summer's end is upon us, the respite from a life on pause rounded out. The pandemic in the...
+
Art Will Set You Free
Conversation with Photographer Bill Phelps
As life was turning constantly during this past year, one of the things that constantly kept me looking, hoping...
+
Futurities, Uncertain / 2022 Cornell Biennial
Jul 13 – Dec 18, 2022
Inviting celebratory imaginations and enactments, the 2022 Cornell Biennial performs an artistic call and response to counter singular utopic...
+
Rencontres d’Arles 2022
Jul 4 – Sep 25, 2022
Artists who use the medium are there to remind us of what we want to neither hear nor see....
+
Bernd & Hilla Becher
Jul 15 – Nov 6, 2022
Bernd & Hilla Becher changed the course of late 20th century photography. Working as a couple, they focused on...
+
Our 5th Year Anniversary
ARTPIL / Prescription .129
We are rounding out our fifth year with nearly 3 million visits strong. A very exciting journey it has...
+
Deana Lawson
Various / 2022–2023
This exhibition is the first museum survey dedicated to the work of Lawson, a singular voice in photography today...
+
Dalton Paula: Portraits
Jul 29 – Oct 30, 2022
Dalton Paula works in painting, drawing, video, performance and sculpture around Afro-Brazilian histories and experiences. This exhibition focus in...
+
ARTPIL / Prescription .130
The Summer's End
Pack up the beach bags and the picnic baskets. Count the votes. Back to school, return to work, live the new normal.
+
Art Will Set You Free
Conversation with Photographer Bill Phelps
As life was turning constantly during this past year, one of the things that constantly kept me looking, hoping...
+
Futurities, Uncertain / 2022 Cornell Biennial
Jul 13 – Dec 18, 2022
Inviting celebratory imaginations and enactments, the 2022 Cornell Biennial performs an artistic call and response to counter singular utopic...
+
Rencontres d’Arles 2022
Jul 4 – Sep 25, 2022
Artists who use the medium are there to remind us of what we want to neither hear nor see....
+
Bernd & Hilla Becher
Jul 15 – Nov 6, 2022
Bernd & Hilla Becher changed the course of late 20th century photography. Working as a couple, they focused on...
+
Our 5th Year Anniversary
ARTPIL / Prescription .129
We are rounding out our fifth year with nearly 3 million visits strong. A very exciting journey it has been, indeed.
+
Deana Lawson
Various / 2022–2023
This exhibition is the first museum survey dedicated to the work of Lawson, a singular voice in photography today...
+