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

 

Spotlight on Intersections@5: Alyson Shotz

Shotz_Allusion of Gravity

Installation shot of Alyson Shotz’s Allusion of GravityPhoto: Lee Stalsworth

The Phillips celebrates the fifth anniversary of its Intersections contemporary art series with Intersections@5, an exhibition comprising work by 20 of the participating artists. In this blog series, each artist writes about his or her work on view.

The structure of this sculpture is inspired by looking at diagrams of space, mass, and how they interact to create the gravity we experience. I hope to allow the viewer to think about space in a different way: what is empty space, what does it look like, what shapes can it take?

Allusion of Gravity is made with clear, round glass beads which reflect the light and let the sculpture transform with the changing natural light during the day. Each bead also acts as a magnifying glass for all the other beads, creating many mini-sculptures within the larger sculpture.

Allusion of Gravity is one version of what I imagine empty space to be like. It was my first sculpture exploring the structure of space itself, and began a series I am still working on today.

Alyson Shotz

Spotlight on Intersections@5: Kate Shepherd

The Phillips celebrates the fifth anniversary of its Intersections contemporary art series with Intersections@5, an exhibition comprising work by 20 of the participating artists. In this blog series, each artist writes about his or her work on view.

Shepherd_Chrysanthemum

Kate Shepherd, Chrysanthemum, 2010. Oil and enamel on paper, 28 x 38 in. Purchase, The Hereward Lester Cooke Memorial Fund and Gift of C. Richard Belger and Evelyn R. Craft, 2010

While it seems to be a relatively small task to make a “medium-sized” work, it is a surprisingly hard challenge. My work tends to be door-like. The figures (however you define that term) inhabit a space that echos real life—with a gravity and stance that living beings share. On the other hand, the smaller painting puts us in a position of looking upon an image, or in the case of Chrysanthemum, upon a mere idea of an object, a geometric “absolute” construction. I wanted to point to Mondrian’s copious flower studies; my yellow made that connection clear.

Black Tiles is a lyrical optical trick, a graceful linear movement to behold. How do those straight lines billow? Unlike the paradigm of a painting acting as window, we look upon this image and not through it.

Kate Shepherd