Kristin Romberg: Aleksei Gan’s Constructivism, 1917-1928 (2010)

31 July 2015, dusan

“This is the first monograph about the Russian constructivist Aleksei Gan (1887-1942) and an experiment in the formal analysis of a materialist practice.

Best known as co-founder of the First Working Group of Constructivists and author of the group’s agitational and theoretical texts, Gan’s own oeuvre was comprised of amateur performances and mass-media objects (texts, books, journals, and films). This dissertation shows that the same qualities of ephemerality and dependency that make Gan’s work resistant to art-historical analysis were also what made it representative of constructivism’s ambitions for a materialist approach to art. In exploring these forms, Gan redefined the ‘work of art’ as a labor process through which the material world, human beings, and normative (common or social) frameworks simultaneously produced one another. The result was an alternative modernism, what I call an aesthetics of embeddedness, whose objects were extensive and responsive structures designed to permeate and shape their environment. Through close readings, the dissertation redefines art-historical concepts such as style and medium in ways specific to Gan’s historical moment, also examining them as manifestations of tensions in the early Soviet imagination. Most crucially these involve the cult of labor, the politics of group formation, and the power of the mass media to mold the normative frameworks governing social reality.

Chapter 1 reevaluates the origins of Russian constructivism by examining Gan’s early career in cultural and political enlightenment organizations, particularly his work in amateur theater and as a ‘constructor of mass action’. Chapter 2 focuses on the crystallization of constructivism as a movement and aesthetic theory in 1921. Chapter 3 looks closely at Gan’s book Constructivism (1922), developing an understanding of constructivism based on a typographic rather than sculptural model of material making. Chapters 4 and 5 examine Gan’s journal projects in terms of architecture and cinema, defining a set of constructive paradigms that run throughout Gan’s work. Finally, chapter 6 treats Gan’s work as a filmmaker in relation to contemporary efforts to rationalize artistic labor.” (Abstract)

Ph.D. Dissertation
Columbia University, New York, 2010
576 pages


PDF (24 MB, illustrations missing, updated on 2017-3-21)

Leslie Martin, Ben Nicholson, Naum Gabo (eds.): Circle: International Survey of Constructive Art (1937/1971)

14 June 2015, dusan

This book contains work and writings by virtually all the leading architects and artists of the international constructivism of the 1930s.

First published in London, 1937.
Reprinted by Praeger Publishers, New York, 1971
viii+291 pages
in the Unlimited Edition


PDF (58 MB, no OCR)

Jeffrey Kastner, Brian Wallis (eds.): Land and Environmental Art (1998)

12 April 2015, dusan

“The traditional landscape genre was radically transformed in the 1960s when many artists stopped merely representing the land and made their mark directly in the environment. Drawn by the vast uncultivated spaces of the desert and mountain as well as post-industrial wastelands, artists such as Michael Heizer, Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson moved the earth to create colossal primal symbols. Others punctuated the horizon with man-made signposts, such as Christo’s Running Fence or Walter de Maria’s Lightning Field. Journeys became works of art for Richard Long while Dennis Oppenheim and Ana Mendieta immersed their bodies in the contours of the land.

This book traces early developments to the present day, as artists are exploring eco-systems and the interface between industrial, urban and rural cultures.”

Edited by Jeffrey Kastner
Survey by Brian Wallis
Publisher Phaidon Press, 1998
ISBN 0714835145, 9780714835143
304 pages

Review: Boettger (CAA.Reviews, 1999).


PDF (117 MB, no OCR)

For more on land art see Monoskop wiki (includes a select bibliography and collection of links to online documentation of the works by early land artists).