The National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russia
The well-known Hungarian artist Bela Uitz arrived in Moscow for the first time in 1921. At the time, he was interested in socialism and Modernism. Uitz quickly became acquainted with the artists supported by the critics from the journal “Lef”, including Aleksandr Rodchenko, Varvara Stepanova, and Gustav Klucis. After this trip, Uitz completed two important paintings, which broke with his usual figurative style. The first is entitled “Icon Analysis” (1922), and the second “Struggle” (1922). The forms of the canvases of these works covered with flying squares and circles and painted with bright colors are similar to the surfaces of the pre-revolutionary futurist paintings. The first part of this presentation demonstrates that these works do not represent a complete turn toward futurism, but rather constitute a short experiment with futurist forms and the theory of constructivism, as it had been developed in Moscow in 1921.
For Uitz, the most important problem of socialist art was the problem of perspective. When these works are compared with his other paintings from the early 1920s, they indicate that Uitz was working to find a way to open for the spectator paths for new ways of perceiving the material world. Documents from his personal archive, as well as from the archive of the October Association show that in his view, as an artist and a theorist, the perception of the material world is always located within the beholder, as a part of his physical organism. Therefore, the figure always remained the center of his attention and the central subject of most of his paintings until the end of his life in 1972. In the second half of this presentation I demonstrate how Uitz, after moving to Moscow in 1926, tried to combine the constructivists and the futurists’ ideas about perspective in painting with his own understanding of the theories of perspective developed during the Renaissance, in order to create a new theory of monumental art and visual perspective for the new Soviet epoch.