Russian Avant-Garde: Revolution in Art, Art in Revolution
Spring 2017


Paper instructions:
Russian Avant-Garde: Revolution in Art, Art in Revolution
Spring 2017
Instructor: Masha Chlenova
Midterm Paper Assignment
Due March 13 (in class and via email as a word document)
Please include illustrations of the work(s) you are analyzing.

Pick one or two artworks by a Russian artist from our period you have seen in person at MoMA. An exception could be an artwork that no longer exists (such as Tatlin’s relief for example). In the latter case, please tell me about your intention in advance (in person before or after class would be best).
Write a 5-page paper (12 pt font, double-spaced) analyzing the work(s) of your choice, formally and historically, and discuss its significance within the broader context of the Russian avant-garde. You can use texts assigned for the class and additional readings on reserve. Make sure to look at other works made by the artist you choose in order to situate the work you are analyzing within her or his overall career and within the broader context of the Russian avant-garde. If the book you need is not already on reserve for the class, please feel free to ask me for advice about the literature.
This paper is primarily about looking closely at the artwork(s) of your choice and analyzing how it functions visually and how it conveys its intended meaning. You need to have a good understanding of the historical context of this work within the artist’s career, and more broadly within the history of the Russian avant-garde we studied so far, in order to formulate a historically grounded argument, but you don’t need to spell out the artist’s biography or give general historical context in your paper. This knowledge will allow you to formulate a perceptive and historically accurate analysis of an individual work.
You can use the following questions to guide your visual analysis, but please develop a coherent and structured argument for your paper, focused around the work(s) of your choice.
From which materials is the work made? What is their significance? What is its surface like? How are colors and lines used? What is its’ composition? What is the relationship between figure(s) and the ground? How do its elements (colors, lines, faktura, materials, special organization, etc.) function individually and in relation to each other? Is there an identifiable subject-matter? If yes what is its meaning or, if not, what is the significance of its absence? What are the most distinct and expressive formal aspects of the work?
Please don’t forget to list the sources you used and footnote any direct quotations. Please use only authoritative printed sources and avoid online research where you cannot verify the source.
If you have any questions or need guidance please don’t hesitate to ask.
Have fun!

The Russian artist I choose is El Lissitzky
I upload the artwork I choose

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