The Work Ahead of Us


Vladimir Tatlin 



The foundation on which our work in plastic art – our craft – rested was not homogenous, and every connection between painting, sculpture and architecture had been lost: the result was individualism, ie. the expression of purely personal habits and tastes; while the artists, in their approach to the material, degraded it to a sort of distortion in relation to one or another field of plastic art. In the best event, artists thus decorated the walls of private houses (individual nests) and left behind a succession of ‘Yaroslav Railway Stations’ and a variety of now ridiculous forms.

What happened from the social aspect in 1917 was realised in our work as pictorial artist in 1914, when ‘materials, volume and construction’ were accepted as our foundation.

We declare our distrust of the eye, and place our sensual impressions under control.

In 1915 an exhibition of material models on the laboratory scale was held in Moscow (an exhibition of reliefs and counter-reliefs). An exhibition held in 1917 presented a number of examples of material combinations, which were the results of more complicated investigations into the use of material in itself, and what this leads to: movement, tension, and the mutual relationship between.

This investigation of material, volume and construction made it possible for us in 1918, in an artistic form, to begin to combine materials like iron and glass, the materials of modern Classicism, comparable in their severity with the marble of antiquity.

In this way an opportunity emerges of uniting purely artistic forms with utilitarian intentions. An example is the project for a monument to the Third International (exhibited at the Eighth Congress).

The results of this are models which stimulate us to inventions in our work of creating a new world, and which call upon the producers to exercise control over the forms encountered in our new everyday life.

VE Tatlin
T Shapiro
I Meyerzon
P Vinogradov



31 December 1920

In:  Architectural Design: The Avant-Garde: Russian Architectue in the Twenties. Guest-edited by Catherine Cooke & Justin Ageros. London: Academy Editions, 1991. p23. Translated from the Russian by Catherine Cooke