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Magic windows: Friedrich Kiesler and department store constructivism

Haran, Barnaby



John C. Welchman


This paper concerns the use of Constructivist aesthetics by Friedrich Kiesler in window displays for Saks Fifth Avenue department store in New York in 1928. This event arguably concluded the dissipation of the revolutionary potential of Russian Constructivism, a process that commenced with the formation of International Constructivism. Yet although severely abstracted, Russian Constructivism remained a touchstone for Kiesler, further evident in his study Contemporary Art Applied to the Store and its Display (1930), where he defined ‘an ideology of the shop window’ that understood America as a paradigm of both mass and machine and Kiesler also designed the Film Guild Cinema, where Russian montage epics were projected onto an ocular ‘machine eye’ screen. Kiesler’s work was part of a larger manifestation of versions of Constructivism in the United States that extended from the Communist movement to fashion and advertising.

Publication Date Apr 1, 2013
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Pages 69-94
Series Title Subject/Object: New Studies in Sculpture
Book Title Sculpture and the Vitrine
ISBN 9781409435273
Institution Citation Haran, B. (2013). Magic windows: Friedrich Kiesler and department store constructivism. In J. C. Welchman (Ed.), Sculpture and the Vitrine, 69-94. Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
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