The name of Konstantin Medunetskiy (1899-1935) is associated with Russian avant-garde artistic associations of the 1920s and 1930s, in particular with the constructivists.
K. Medunetskiy was educated at the Stroganov School of Industrial Art, where he studied at the theater and decoration department. In the 1920s a number of artistic trends maintained continuity with the art of Russian Art Nouveau and avant-garde – largely due to the fact that the masters of the beginning of the century continued to work. On the other hand, the functions and tasks of art in society have become increasingly diverse. New types of artistic activity arose: cinema, advertising, design. Active disputes were fought by the “easelists” (supporters of easel art forms) and the “production workers”, or the so-called constructivists, whose activities were aimed at improving the subject environment surrounding a person. Constructivism is considered to be a Russian (Soviet) phenomenon that arose as one of the directions of the new, avant-garde, proletarian art, although, like any phenomenon in art, it is not limited to the framework of one country. The beginning of the constructivists’ movement is connected with the Moscow Society of Young Artists (OBMOZHU), which was organized by Konstantin Medunetskiy and the Stenberg brothers Vladimir and George in 1919.If direct pictorial sensation was most valuable in Kazimir Malevich’s Suprematist compositions, then the OBMOU works belonged more to the field of design. In addition to the Stenberg brothers and K. Medunetsky, the association included such famous artists as A. Lentulov, A. Rodchenko, N. Denisovsky, M. Eremichev, A. Zamoshkin, K. Johanson, V. Komardenkov, S. Kostin, A. Naumov , A. Perekatov, A. Prusakov, N. Prusakov, S. Svetlov, G. Yakulov
A few years later, in 1921, it was K. Medunetsky who, jointly with the Stenberg brothers, organized the famous Constructivists exhibition in the Moscow Cafe of Poets. Then a catalog with a manifesto was published.
In the 20s, K. Medunetskiy fruitfully collaborated with the Moscow Chamber Theater, and in 1923 the artist was in Paris with the theater, where he visited the workshop of P. Picasso. In1924, he and Stenberg created sketches of scenery for A. Ostrovsky’s play “The Storm”. Together with S. Kostin, he worked on models of trade stalls for the Soviet pavilion at the Paris International Exhibition. The painting “Composition with a Rainbow and Three Figures”, like many works by K. Medunetsky, is characterized by rigor, geometry, laconic form and rich color scheme.
The aesthetics of constructivism in many respects contributed to the formation of modern artistic design. Based on the development of K. Medunetsky, A.M. Rodchenko, A.M. Ghana and others created new types of utensils and furniture that were convenient to use and designed for mass production; artists developed designs for fabrics and practical models of work clothes (V. Stepanova, V. Tatlin). Constructivism played a significant role in the development of poster graphics and book design. In the early 1930s, the political situation in the country, and, consequently, in art, changed significantly. At first, innovative movements were sharply criticized, and then completely banned, like the bourgeois ones. Many constructivist artists have fallen into disgrace or have been persecuted. Some of them who did not want to “rebuild” were repressed.
The works of K. Medunetskiy will remain in history as the best examples of avant-garde
thoughts that brought revolutionary ideas of innovation and progress, which in our time remain modern.