Tony Shafrazi Gallery is thrilled to present the definitive paradigm of Constructivism, Vladimir Tatlin’s Monument for the Third International, exhibited here for the first time in the United States.
Tatlin, the father of the Russian Constructivist movement, began work on the Monument in 1915 and completed his famous scale model of the colossal structure in 1920. Commonly known as "Tatlin’s Tower," the Monument, envisioned to function as the headquarters of the Communist International, was to stand in the birthplace of the Russian Revolution—the city of Petrograd. It was to be made from industrial materials—iron, glass, and steel—and stand 1300 feet, more than 300 feet taller than the Eiffel Tower or the approximate height of The Empire State Building. The ambitious engineering and architectural demands of the project, combined with political turmoil and steel shortages made it unrealistic for the massive structure to be realized.
Tatlin’s Tower was exhibited in Petrograd in November 1920 and then in Moscow later that December on the occasion of the Soviet Congress. The model was erected a third time, in Tatlin’s absence, at the World Exhibition of Industrial and Decorative Art in Paris, 1925. The only other time that the model was installed during the artist’s lifetime was at the 1930 exhibition in Leningrad. By 1932, all traces of these models had disappeared.
The model of Monument for the Third International in our exhibition is the first model to have been built after Tatlin’s death. In 1967, Pontus Hulten, Director of Moderna Museet in Stockholm, having obtained permission from Aleksandra Korsakova, Tatlin’s widow, and consulting with T. M. Shapiro, Tatlin’s original collaborator, as well as two structural engineers, oversaw the fabrication of this model which made its debut in the exhibition “Vladimir Tatlin” at the Moderna Museet in 1968. Later the exhibition traveled to Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven and Technische Hochschule Delft, Holland in 1969, and many other important museums.
In 1979, this model was lent to the exhibition Moscow-Paris at the Centre Georges Pompidou. After the exhibition, the Pompidou had an exact replica made from this model for their collection, as our original model had been acquired by a private collector from Switzerland. In 1980, the Moderna Museet also made a replica from this model for their collection. Of these three versions of Monument for the Third International, the present sculpture is the only one created under the supervision of Shapiro, Tatlin’s original collaborator, and is the most accurate rendition of his original 1920 design.
Tatlin’s Monument for the Third International is widely regarded as the defining symbol of Constructivist sculpture and architecture and remains one of the most celebrated icons of revolutionary art of the 20th century. It will be on view at Tony Shafrazi Gallery through July 29, 2011.