PRINT January 1969

1. Constructivism and its Confusions


THE HISTORY OF CONSTRUCTIVISM is curious. Since its inception around 1920 it has found a number of homes, one of them in the Bauhaus and yet another, surprisingly, with the Dadaists (although not with the Surrealists). It has, in addition, influenced the art education of our time and has consequently affected our taste. In spite of this it has failed to produce works of art that transcend their didacticism; more specifically it seems to have been unable to inspire individual artists, or to have permitted them to become inspired. Yet despite this failure to match the quality of the finest art of our century, the Constructivist tradition has continued unabated, primarily because, I think, of the nature and abundance of its polemic.

It can be argued, with some justification, that the Constructivist tradition hasn’t been particularly critical, that it criticizes in terms of doctrine rather

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