Please join the MSU Department of Art, Art History, and Design as we virtually welcome Dr. Kristin Romberg who will be offering a free public lecture on zoom titled “Russian Constructivist Tectonics and the Wegenerian Revolution.” This lecture will serve as the Keynote for the 2020 Undergraduate Art History & Visual Culture Symposium.
To register for the lecture please use this link:
When the Working Group of Constructivists outlined their aesthetic program in Moscow in 1921, it was famously structured by three “disciplines”: tectonics, faktura, and construction. Whereas the latter two quickly became essential to understandings of constructivism and modernism, the first and arguably the most innovative of the concepts, tectonics, has proved more difficult to absorb. This paper presents one attempt to reckon with the constructivist usage of the term tectonics by situating it within a broader contest of meaning in the first decades of the twentieth century whose participants included Aleksandr Bogdanov’s proto-systems theory of tectology, Alfred Wegener’s theory of continental drift, and Heinrich Wölfflin’s then-new formalist method of Kunstwissenschaft. Constructivism emerges as a fundamentally political version of aesthetic modernism—one that cultivated an uncannily global outlook by working from a position deeply embedded in local specificity, and that offers an alternative version of modernism relevant for politically engaged art practices today.
Kristin Romberg is Associate Professor of Art History at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her book Gan’s Constructivism: Aesthetic Theory for an Embedded Modernism was published by University of California Press in 2018. Curatorial projects include Architecture in Print: Design and Debate in the Soviet Union, 1919-1934 (Wallach Art Gallery, 2005), Propositions on Revolution (Slogans for a Future) (Krannert Art Museum, 2017). She has also consulted and written for the catalogue for two major museum exhibitions: Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Test at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2017, and Engineer, Agitator, Constructor: The Artist Reinvented, which opens at MoMA in New York in December 2020.