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

Spatial Construction no. 12

c. 1920
On view
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

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

Additional text

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 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

Provenance Research Project
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

If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please e-mail provenance@moma.org or write to:

Provenance Research Project
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019

Pictured above: Vasily Kandinsky. Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 2 (detail). 1914. Oil on canvas, 64 1/8 x 48 3/8" (162.6 x 122.7 cm). Nelson A. Rockefeller Fund (by exchange). © 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

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Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource