Gustav Klutsis was a pioneering Latvian photographer and a major member of the Constructivist avant-garde.
Gustav Klutsis (1895 – 1944) was a Latvian artist and graphic, poster and applied arts designer. Born in 1895, Klutsis was a devoted supporter of the Bolshevik regime and a member of the communist party. He was considered the pioneer of photomontage in the Soviet Union and an acclaimed graphic designer and painter. Klutsis was one of the earliest artists to use the photomontage technique for visual propaganda. He subsequently emerged as a brilliant creator of Stalinist political art.
From 1924 to 1930, he taught at the Vkhutemas (Higher Artistic and Technological Workshops). He actively organised the USSR Pavilion at the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels in 1925.
He entered the Latvian Rifle Regiment after training in Riga from 1913 to 1915 and in Petrograd from 1915 to 1917. He studied under Kasimir Malevich and Antoine Pevsner at the State Free Art Studios (Svomas).
He experimented with materials in their own right until adopting a more practical outlook in the design of agitprop propaganda and events, influenced by the abstract styles of Suprematism and Constructivism. Photomontage was often used to enhance his posters’ context and political message.
Klutsis summed up his role in the revolution as follows;
“My task was to make the revolutionary struggle of the working class and Soviet reality the contents of my creative output, converting it into artistic images comprehensible to the masses” (Pisch, 2016)
Despite his propaganda work for the regime, he was killed shortly after being arrested at a prison near Moscow.
Photomontage – Amazon
Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.
Woodham, J. M. (2006). A dictionary of modern design. Oxford University Press.
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