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Tatlin, Vladimir [Russian, 1885-1953] 











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Tatlin, Vladimir [Russian, 1885-1953]

[ 20th Century Artists ]

Vladimir Yevgrafovich Tatlin was born in the Russian Republic in 1885. He worked as a painter and architect. With Kazimir Malevich he became one of the two most important figures in the Russian avant-garde art movement of the 1920s.

Tatlin was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine, the son of a railway engineer and a poet. He worked as a merchant sea cadet and spent some time abroad. He began his art career as an icon painter in Moscow, and attended the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.

Tatlin achieved fame as the architect who designed the huge Monument to the Third International, also known as Tatlin's Tower. Planned in 1920, the monument, was to be a tall tower in iron, glass and steel which would have dwarfed the Eiffel Tower in Paris (it was a third taller at 1,300 feet high). Inside the iron-and-steel structure of twin spirals, the design envisaged three building blocks, covered with glass windows, which would rotate at different speeds (the first one, a cube, once a year; the second one, a pyramid, once a month; the third one, a cylinder, once a day). High costs prevented Tatlin from executing the plan.

Tatlin also founded Russian Constructivist art with his counter-reliefs — structures made of wood and iron for hanging in wall corners. He conceived these sculptures in order to question the traditional idea of painting. Later prominent constructivists included Manuel Rendón Seminario, Joaquín Torres García, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Antoine Pevsner and Naum Gabo.

Although close friends at the beginning of their careers, Tatlin and Malevich diverged when Malevich did not agree with the utilitarian program of Constructivism. This led Malevich to develop his Suprematist program in the city of Vitebsk, where he found a school called UNOVIS (Champions of the new art). Suprematism came to light in 1915 at the ‘0.10’ exhibition, one of the main shows of Russian avant-garde, also called “the last futurist exhibition.”

Tatlin also dedicated himself to the study of clothes, objects and so on. At the end of his life he started to research bird-flight, in order to provide human beings with facilities that would allow them to pursue one of the great dreams of humanity: to fly.

Vladimir Yevgrafovich Tatlin died in 1953. He was buried at the Novodevichiy Cemetery in Moscow.

  Tatlin, Vladimir [Russian, 1885-1953]

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