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 >

EARTH / Nikolaus Geyrhalter
film premiere / January 2020
Several billion tons of earth are moved annually by humans – with shovels, excavators, and dynamite. Geyrhalter documents these...
+
ARTPIL / Prescription .108
Second Face of Janus
Well into the New Year 2020 as we enter the second phase of the month of Janus, we will...
+
Alec Soth / Magnum Gallery
Nov 7, 2019 – Jan 24, 2020
"Rather than trying to make some sort of epic narrative about America, I wanted to simply spend time looking...
+
The Post-War Dream
journey to Anthropocene
I spent six weeks in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to document the transformation of cities in the region....
+
Kiki Smith / Monnaie de Paris
Oct 18, 2019 – Feb 9, 2020
This exhibition covering the works of Kiki Smith from the '80s to today, presents several global and intimate themes,...
+
What We Found After You Left / Naeem Mohaiemen
Sep 21, 2019 – May 10, 2020
While focusing on moments of mistake and misrecognition, Mohaiemen’s research into aspirations towards utopia during the Cold War era,...
+
Worlds in Motion
Sep 21, 2019 – Apr 13, 2020
Mudam Luxembourg presents Worlds in Motion, a thematic presentation of works by nine contemporary artists from the Mudam Collection...
+
30 Under 30 Women Photographers / 2020
Selections for 2020
For its 11th edition, Artpil is proud to announce the 2020 group of 30 Under 30 Women Photographers, with...
+
EARTH / Nikolaus Geyrhalter
film premiere / January 2020
Several billion tons of earth are moved annually by humans – with shovels, excavators, and dynamite. Geyrhalter documents these...
+
ARTPIL / Prescription .108
Second Face of Janus
Well into the New Year 2020 as we enter the second phase of the month of Janus, we will...
+
Alec Soth / Magnum Gallery
Nov 7, 2019 – Jan 24, 2020
"Rather than trying to make some sort of epic narrative about America, I wanted to simply spend time looking...
+
The Post-War Dream
journey to Anthropocene
I spent six weeks in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to document the transformation of cities in the region....
+
Kiki Smith / Monnaie de Paris
Oct 18, 2019 – Feb 9, 2020
This exhibition covering the works of Kiki Smith from the '80s to today, presents several global and intimate themes,...
+
What We Found After You Left / Naeem Mohaiemen
Sep 21, 2019 – May 10, 2020
While focusing on moments of mistake and misrecognition, Mohaiemen’s research into aspirations towards utopia during the Cold War era,...
+
Worlds in Motion
Sep 21, 2019 – Apr 13, 2020
Mudam Luxembourg presents Worlds in Motion, a thematic presentation of works by nine contemporary artists from the Mudam Collection...
+
30 Under 30 Women Photographers / 2020
Selections for 2020
For its 11th edition, Artpil is proud to announce the 2020 group of 30 Under 30 Women Photographers, with...
+