Vladimir Yevgraphovich Tatlin was a Russian painter and architect, and was identified as a central figure in the Russian Constructivist movement.
Tatlin was born in Moscow in 1885. A son of a railway engineer and a poet, he spent his childhood in Kharkiv in Eastern Ukraine and then worked as a merchant sea cadet, travelling for some time overseas until 1915.
Initially trained as an icon painter, he began his formal training in 1902 when he attended the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. He then studied at the Penza School of Art from 1904 to 1909, where his inspiration to create purposeful and socially-relevant art started.
He became interested three-dimensional relief upon seeing the work of Picasso during a visit to Paris in 1913. It was then when he started to create what he called counter-reliefs, sculptures that allowed the viewer to see the materials that were utilized and how they interacted, harmonized and juxtaposed with each other to create the form.
Following the revolution, Tatlin’s work reflected his focus on the socialist and utilitarian nature of construction. He became most famous for the design of the Monument to the Third International, a tall tower of iron, glass and steel that comprised of spirals and building blocks covered with glass windows. However, only a model scale was created and the actual tower was never built.
He remained as an active artist until his death in 1953. However, as the Constructivist and Russian avant-garde movement died out in the 1930s, he turned to studying the science of flight as well as returned to his roots in painting.
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