Sold out

The Janus Face of the Twenties

Dada and Constructivism, two art movements characterised by having emerged at critical moments in history: World War I and the Russian Revolution. Nevertheless, despite these similarities, they have often been considered by historians as counter-posed given that the first focuses on intuitive thought and the transrational while Constructivism delves into objective beauty and pure forms.

Picabia, Johannes Baader, Hausmann, Schwitters, Arp, Höch, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Georges Ribemont Dessaignes, Van Doesburg Lissitzky, Exter, Alexander Rodchenko, Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, László Moholy Nagy, Kazimir Malévich, Liubov Popova, Hans Richter, Georges Vantongerloo, Katarzyna Kobro and Petr Miturich.

Schwitters published a periodical called Merz between 1923–32 in which each issue was devoted to a central theme. Merz 5 1923, for instance, was a portfolio of prints by Hans Arp, Merz 8/9, 1924, was edited and typeset by El Lissitsky, Merz 14/15, 1925, was a typographical children's story entitled The Scarecrow by Schwitters, Kätte Steinitz and Theo van Doesburg.

The printed surface overcomes space and time. The printed surface, the infinity of the book, has to be transcended. THE-ELECTRO-LIBRARY

The artist and designer El Lissitzky conjured the idea of “the electro-library” in a brief manifesto on typography in 1923. The phrase suggested a shifting context for the typography being generated by avant-garde designers and artists in Europe in the 1920s. Closely linked to the ideas of Constructivism and related movements that proposed a universal visual language, this new typography was commonly transmitted by experimental magazines devoted to the visual arts, design, architecture, theater, and film.

Topography of Typography

These texts were steeped in the revolutionary ideologies of the left of the 1920s and interwove political discourse with these emerging forms in art and design. New technologies of transportation, communication, science and engineering were key motifs that illustrated potential new forms of modern living and organizing life. Different regional groups and their magazines reacted to and expanded upon these ideas, connecting local contexts with international movements. Czech, Romanian, Yugoslavian, Polish and Hungarian publications created a dynamic narrative of ideas spreading across a continent through a communication network.

The Cinema and the illustrated weekly magazine have triumphed. We rejoice at the new media which technology has placed at our disposal.

Congress of the Constructivists and Dadaists

Created by individuals central to these modernist movements—El Lissitzky, Kurt Schwitters, László Moholy-Nagy, Hans Richter, Theo van Doesburg, Lajos Kassák and Karel Teige—the magazines read as manifestos for new art and design innovations and functioned as a platform for translated writings by key figures of the international avant-garde.