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The Realist Manifesto      Naum Gabo and Antoine Pevsner         Moscow, 5th August, 1920

 

                                                                                                                   2nd State Printing House

Extracts

 

We say . . .
Space and time are re-born to us today. Space and time are the only forms on which life is built and hence art must be constructed. . . .

 

The realization of our perceptions of the world in the forms of space and time is the only aim of our pictorial and plastic art. In them we do not measure our works with the yardstick of beauty, we do not weigh them with pounds of tenderness and sentiments.

 

The plumb-line in our hand, eyes as precise as a ruler, in a spirit as taut as a compass . . . we construct our work as the universe constructs its own, as the engineer constructs his bridges, as the mathematician his formula of the orbits. . . .


That is why we in creating things take away from them the labels of their owners . . . all accidental and local, leaving only the reality of the constant rhythm of the forces in them.

 

1. Thence in painting we renounce colour as a pictorial element, colour is the idealized optical surface of objects; an exterior and superficial impression of them; colour is accidental and has nothing in common with the innermost essence of a thing.

We affirm that the tone of a substance, i.e. its light-absorbing material body is its only pictorial reality.

 

2. We renounce in a line, its descriptive value; in real life there are no descriptive lines, description is an accidental trace of man on things, it is not bound up with the essential life and constant structure of the body. Descriptiveness is an element of graphic illustration and decoration.

We affirm the line only as a direction of the static forces and their rhythm in objects.

 

 

3. We renounce volume as a pictorial and plastic form of space; one cannot measure space in volumes as one cannot measure liquid in yards: look at our space . . . what is it if not one continuous depth?

We affirm depth as the only pictorial and plastic form of space.

 

4. We renounce in sculpture, the mass as a sculptural element.
It is known to every engineer that the static forces of a solid body and its material strength do not depend on the quantity of the mass . . . example a rail, a T-beam etc. . . . we take four planes and we construct with them the same volume as of four tons of mass.

Thus we bring back to sculpture the line as a direction and in it we affirm depth as the one form of space.

 

5. We renounce the thousand-year-old delusion in art that held the static rhythms as the only elements of the plastic and pictorial arts.

We affirm in these arts a new element the kinetic rhythms as the basic forms of our perception of real time.

 

These are the five fundamental principles of our work and our constructive technique.

 

Today we proclaim our words to you people. . . . convinced that art must not remain a sanctuary for the idle, a consolation for the weary, and a justification for the lazy. Art should attend us everywhere that life flows and acts . . . .