Barnaby Haran
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Constructivism in the USA
Machine art and architecture at The Little Review exhibitions
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This chapter considers the putative area of ‘American Constructivism’, a formation that did not have any organisational substance but existed as a number of respectively interconnected and discrete tendencies. Two exhibitions organised by The Little Review—the International Theatre Exposition (1926) and the Machine-Age Exposition(1927)—contained the largest amount of Constructivist works on display in the USA in the interwar years, in the form of theatre and architectural designs. The chapter charts the emergence of Constructivism and its reception in America. For the most part, the introduction of Constructivism into the USA involved the depoliticisation of the original Soviet version. Whilst largely apolitical, the exhibitions organised by The Little Review were unique in terms of the organisers’ grasp of Constructivist discourses and techniques, being informed by the International Constructivism of De Stijl via Austrian émigré Frederick Kiesler. The Machine-Age Exposition was notable for its detailed presentation of Soviet architecture, and therefore the chapter includes an extensive analysis of debates around functionalism, culminating in a consideration of the development of the International Style at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

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