Mobile Modernisms: The Last Projects of the Soviet Avant-garde, 1928-1937
Art History and Film and Media Studies
“Mobile Modernisms: The Last Projects of the Soviet Avant-garde, 1928-1937” examines five iconic, yet little studied, projects completed by Soviet avant-garde artists in the decade following Stalin’s rise to power. Ranging from experimental studio exercises to photomontage, installation, sculpture, architecture, painting, and design, they represent complex and stunningly diverse attempts to think visually and materially through the ideology of early Stalinism. In endeavoring to make sense of the new political realities, the protagonists of this project—El Lissitzky, Vladimir Tatlin, Vera Mukhina, and Boris Ender—created objects that challenge received views of this decade as one of “totalitarian art.” Far from the sudden foreclosing usually associated with the end of Soviet modernism, this period, I argue, witnessed a radical (albeit short-lived) expansion of pictorial means inspired by and manifesting the ideals of movement and mobility, including across national borders.