The aim of the following pages is to outline as fully as possible a critical moment in his [Tatlin’s] career – that of the first reliefs – to uncover the roots and the logic behind the functioning of its creative ingredients, to distinguish the conceptual stages that led to this visual revolution, to venture bringing to light the symbolic process that ushered in his sublimation of raw materials and consequently the way he transcended a convention of plastic symbolisation many centuries old. At the very same moment in history – 1914 – his contemporary Viktor Shklovsky summed up his own enterprise in the field of language with the title of his booklet, Resurrection of the Word.28 In a sense this is precisely what Tatlin did in the field of the visual arts: he resurrected materials. The new symbolic system whose gates he pushed open with such brio was later to be termed, correctly or not, “Constructivist” art. By setting itself up as an autonomous and even self-referential system the artwork proclaimed it had gained a new independence: it had built itself according to its own rules, thereby deciding its existence in and of itself.
(From the introduction)
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