Gustav Klutsis. Maquette for Radio-Announcer. 1922

Gustav Klutsis

Maquette for Radio-Announcer

1922

Medium
Painted cardboard, paper, wood, thread, and metal brads
Dimensions
45 3/4 x 14 1/2 x 14 1/2" (106.1 x 36.8 x 36.8 cm)
Credit
Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection Fund
Object number
1226.1979
Copyright
© 2016 / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Department
Painting and Sculpture
This work is not on view.
Gustav Klutsis has 44 works online.
There are 1,519 sculptures online.

This maquette, or model, was a design for a streetbased loudspeaker to be placed at city intersections, where it was to broadcast a speech by Lenin on the fifth anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Klutsis combined his interests in architectural design, posters, and typography, designing a kiosk on which Lenin's name is spelled out in bold red letters while the Russian words for "radio-announcer" and "speech" appear in black. As with other Russian Constructivists, such as Aleksandr Rodchenko and El Lissitzky, Klutsis sought to place art at the service of the new Socialist society and its early ideals. Striving for maximum legibility, he opted for bright colors and simple geometric forms.

Gallery label from 2006

Klutsis made this maquette, or model, as a design for a "radio-announcer"—a street-based loudspeaker—to be placed at city intersections, where it was to broadcast a speech by Lenin on the fifth anniversary of the Russian Revolution. An architecture of struts and cables supports geometric panels and gaily painted loudspeakers. The work clearly announces its purpose: the name "Lenin" appears in large red letters on an arrangement of vanes; black letters running across the leader's name spell the Russian word for "speech"; and in smaller letters above appear the words for "radio-announcer." Like other Constructivist artists, Klutsis chose simple forms, declarative colors, and bold typography—the aim was to be easily understood. Intricately calculated and visually involving, the structure of crossbars and wire rigging is also completely open to view, and every part is self-explanatory in function.

Klutsis had studied abstract painting and had worked in the Suprematist style, but after the Revolution he joined the many Russian artists who threw their energies behind the developing Communist state. Artists throughout Europe were trying to find aesthetic languages that would have a place in a world shaped by new industries, new technologies, and new social forms, a world of mass publics and mass media of communication. Radio-Announcer puts this concern into a Russian context: the attempt to build a utopian society.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 108

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