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Read here about Constructivism, a philosophy that had great influence on the development of tensegrity and other innovations in the structural arts.


Constructivism was an artistic and architectural philosophy that originated in Russia beginning in 1919 as a rejection of the idea of autonomous art. The movement promoted art as a practice for social purposes. Constructivism had a great effect on modern art movements of the 20th century, influencing major trends such as the Bauhaus and De Stijl movements. Its influence was pervasive, with major impacts upon architecture, graphic and industrial design, theatre, film, dance, fashion and to some extent music.

Constructivism had a direct influence on the discovery of tensegrity. These influences were acknowledged in various ways by founders and original pioneers Snelson, Fuller, Emmerich and others, but the critical role of Ioganson was only recently uncovered by the detective work of scholars like Maria Gough and Juris Sils.

From Russia to North Carolina

Tensegrity's best-known founding story is based on events at Black Mountain College, North Carolina, summer of 1948 when Kenneth Snelson's produced some tensegrity sculptures while working with Richard Buckminster Fuller.

Constructivism was a direct influence on Snelson. He researched the Bauhaus moevement and “was attracted to the work of the Russian Constructivists and to the larger world of geometrical art that evolved worldwide in the first-half of the twentieth century" [4].

Constructivism's philosophy permeated the Black Mountain College faculty. Ioganson's spatial constructions as one of “The Working Group of Constructivists” was an influence on many Black Mountain faculty.

Links and References

[1] [Constructivism, wikipedia

[2] In the Laboratory of Constructivism, Karl Ioganson's Cold Structures by Maria Gough. October, Vol. 84. (Spring, 1998), pp. 90-117. Stable URL: [1]

[3] Maria Gough. The Artist as Producer: Russian Constructivism in Revolution. - University of California Press, 2005. - ISBN 0-520-22618-6

[4] Snelson official website,