Aleksandr Rodchenko. Spatial Construction no. 12. c. 1920

Aleksandr Rodchenko

Spatial Construction no. 12

c. 1920

Medium
Plywood, open construction partially painted with aluminum paint, and wire
Dimensions
24 x 33 x 18 1/2" (61 x 83.7 x 47 cm)
Credit
Acquisition made possible through the extraordinary efforts of George and Zinaida Costakis, and through the Nate B. and Frances Spingold, Matthew H. and Erna Futter, and Enid A. Haupt Funds
Object number
156.1986
Department
Painting and Sculpture
This work is on view on Floor 5, in a Collection Gallery, with 7 other works online.
Aleksandr Rodchenko has 159 works online.
There are 1,519 sculptures online.

The nesting ovals that compose this construction were measured out on a single sheet of aluminum-painted plywood, precisely cut, then rotated and suspended to make a three-dimensional object suggestive of planetary orbits. It was made at a time of both civic turmoil and great possibility in Russia, when Rodchenko and his fellow Constructivist artists sought to apply aesthetic ideals to everyday materials. They hoped their approach to art would help create a new language for the Communist state. Reflecting back on this time, Rodchenko said, "We created a new understanding of beauty, and enlarged the concept of art."

Gallery label from 2006

Rodchenko conceived of line as the edge of a plane that is receding in space. In a reverse demonstration of this idea, the nesting ovals that compose this construction were cut from a single sheet of aluminum-painted plywood, then rotated and suspended, transforming what was essentially a plane into a three-dimensional object suggestive of planetary orbits. Rodchenko made this work during a time of civic turmoil and great possibility in Russia, and for him and his Constructivist colleagues line was a component of a new art that would address societal ills, resulting in positive transformation. “In the line a new worldview became clear: to build in essence, and not depict (objectify or non-objectify); build new, expedient, constructive structures in life, and not from life and outside of life,” the artist wrote in 1921.

Gallery label from On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century, November 21, 2010-February 7, 2011

In 1920–21, Rodchenko produced a series of "spatial constructions" that marked abstraction's move from painted surface to three-dimensional object. Each work was based on the principle of repeating a single form: square, circle, triangle, and here, in this only work surviving from the series, ellipse, which the artist cut in concentric bands from a single piece of painted plywood, working from the outer edge to the center. Each spatial construction could be closed to form a flat plane, but when open it became an airy volume suspended above the ground. Simple as they seem, Rodchenko’s spatial constructions declared an end to the devices of traditional sculpture, being without figuration, mass, or pedestal.

Gallery label from Inventing Abstraction, 1910–1925, December 23, 2012–April 15, 2013

In 1920–21, Rodchenko produced a series of "spatial constructions" that marked abstraction's move from painted surface to three-dimensional object. Each work was based on the principle of repeating a single form: square, circle, triangle, and here, in this only work surviving from the series, ellipse, which the artist cut in concentric bands from a single piece of painted plywood, working from the outer edge to the center. Each spatial construction could be closed to form a flat plane, but when open it became an airy volume suspended above the ground. Simple as they seem, Rodchenko’s spatial constructions declared an end to the devices of traditional sculpture, being without figuration, mass, or pedestal.

Gallery label from 2015

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
George Costakis
Artco-Costakis Collection (Art Co. Ltd., Nassau, Bahamas / Cayman Islands.)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase, 1986

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