The term “Constructivism” is one of the most unstable in the modernist lexicon. Broadly speaking, it describes sculpture that is made by joining discrete masses into open-form, usually abstract compositions. It differs from traditional sculptural methods which require the artist to cut away (as in carving) or build up (as in modeling) his materials so that they form a self-contained, monolithic mass. The Constructivist method was initiated by Picasso in the open-form sculptures he produced in the years immediately preceding the First World War. Extending into three dimensions the formal premises of his paintings of the period, Picasso used cardboard, sheet metal, and other materials to represent a particular object—the most famous is his Guitar of 1911-12—by reconstituting its elements into a series of open, overlapping planes. As a result, a new role was assigned to space in denning our...


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