My Artist Heroes series is a collections of collage boxes inspired by key artists who have creatively influenced Thomas Mann over the years.
Artist Hero Series Box with Removeable Brooch - Vladimir TATLIN
I discovered the Russian Constructivists for the first time in a college art history class. I loved art history....it was one of the few history classes that I didn’t fail! Malevich, Rodchenko, Naum Gabo, Popova, Stepanova, and Tatlin became my heroes not just for the art they made but the intention with which they made it. They were manifesting the energies of the Russian revolution thru their paintings, graphics, sculpture and film, which they did with young idealistic artistic intent. They didn’t know that their work would eventually be considered apostate by the political elite intent on totalitarian rule but the regardless they were exuberant in the application of their conceptual thinking and artistic capabilities. Their movement was in favor of art as a practice for social purposes and they pursued art for the benefit of all in the new world they thought they were creating were everyone would be equal.
So, it’s 1969, and here am I the relatively privileged middle class American kid who decides the Viet Nam War is a bullshit ploy by our government and military to keep them in power with the willingness to sacrifice of a generation of American kids to do it with. I’m leading moratorium marches to Washington DC, I’m getting arrested in mass arrests. I, at the Levitation of the Pentagon, am applying for a Conscientious Objector status weigh the help of the Quakers and my Junior High School Principal, and I’m learning about these guys in Russia 50 years ago who were doing similar things with their artistic abilities so I am seriously turned on
by all of that!
Vladimir draws, designs and builds the models for the Monument to the Third International which is also known as Tatlin’s Tower. I’m now a theatre major and am given the task to design and build the sets for the Caucasian Chalk Circle, a play by Berthold Brecht and I can’t get the image of Tatlin’s tower outta my brain having seen it in art history classes. So I found and old barn outside of town and got permission to tear it down form the owner...well not tear it down but, like take it meticulously apart and then use it to build a set on a large circular platform on casters that can be turned to reveal different settings but is basically centered of a tower of similar construction to Tatlin’s.
￼I still dream about that time when I did all of that and how his design system influences the way I think and feel and work when I am in design mode. It’s just too much!