Unpacking Double Monuments, Part 2

Installation view_Photo Rhiannon Newman

Installation view of Bettina Pousttchi’s Double Monuments. Photo: Rhiannon Newman

This is a multi-part blog post; Read Part 1 here.

Pousttchi’s Double Monuments at the Phillips soar toward the ceiling as Tatlin’s did, but his model was symbolic of larger things to come. If constructed, his glass and iron sculpture would have been 1,300 feet (about 300 feet taller than the Eiffel Tower). The model was meant to promote “the collective” and (re)establish the visual culture of Russia. Pousttchi’s Double Monuments aren’t necessarily commenting on that idea, but much of their power and meaning is drawn from that history.

Pousttchi uses Dan Flavin’s trademark fluorescent tubes to expand that history. In the 1960s, American artist Dan Flavin utilized neon tubes to explore minimalism and the role of art in the gallery. Interestingly, he created a series responding to Tatlin’s monument. Pousttchi disrupts Dan Flavin’s minimalist language and places fluorescent tubes within bent metal crowd barriers. She simultaneously comments on Flavin’s homage and removes a key element of Flavin’s works; her fluorescent lights are not alone in a gallery space as Flavin’s are, but rather are enveloped by the skeleton of Tatlin’s monument.

Tatlin sought to usher in a new era of Russian visual culture and politics. Flavin was attempting to disrupt the idea of the gallery. Pousttchi comments on history and the work that came before to explore her own ambitions and artistic practice.

Emma Kennedy, Marketing & Communications Intern

Unpacking Double Monuments, Part 1

Pousttchi with Vesela_Photo Rhiannon Newman

Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Vesela Sretenovic and Bettina Pousttchi with the artist’s Double Monuments. Photo: Rhiannon Newman

Artists Bettina Pousttchi, Vladimir Tatlin, and Dan Flavin each present complex, layered art that reflects on the past and the present. Their work captures the attention of the viewer and reveals the ambitions of each artist.

In 1920s Russia, the Constructivist sculptor-architect Vladimir Tatlin led a government program to replace tsarist-era monuments with new public celebrations of the recently established regime and this new period in Russian history. Tatlin’s ideas for the nation’s new artistic practices favored abstraction over figurative representations of revolution heroes, and he proposed the Monument to the Third International, a soaring structure of iron and glass, two modern materials meant to emphasize the modernity of the Soviet nation. Russia was by no means an industrialized nation at the time; when a wooden model of the structure was paraded through the streets it was on a horse-drawn wagon. This model represented the aspirations and hopes for post-revolution Russia.

Tatlin’s monument was intended to be a celebration of the revolution and new communist regime as well as the headquarters of the Third International, known as the International Organization of Communist Parties or the Comintern. The building focused on the collective and the glass was meant to symbolically represent the transparency of the Third International. This structure, representing ingenuity and modernity, was never built.

This is a multi-part blog post; check back next week for Part 2.

Emma Kennedy, Marketing & Communications Intern

 

ArtGrams: Double Monuments

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Instagrammer @rhiannonnewman snapped this photo of Bettina Pousttchi with her installation during a recent gallery talk with the artist

In this month’s ArtGrams, we’re sharing your photos from Bettina Pousttchi’s recently installed Intersections exhibition Double Monuments. It’s fascinating how this installation can look light-drenched and inviting in one moment, dark and ominous the next.

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Photo: IG/anne.stick

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Photo: IG/shiffmane

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Before the lights are turned on. Photo: IG/davbad

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Photo: IG/bilexc

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Photo: IG/kimseung4

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Photo: IG/_chrishughes

ArtGrams is a monthly series in which we feature our favorite Instagrammed pictures taken around or inspired by the museum. Each month, we’ll feature a different theme based on trends we’ve seen in visitor photos. Hashtag your images with #PhillipsCollection or tag your location for a chance to be featured.