Avant-Garde Transformation of Artistic Labor: The Productivist View of Boris Arvatov


  • Nikola Dedić




historical materialism, labor theory of value, political economy, avant-garde art, Soviet avant-garde, constructivism, productivism


The basic thesis of the article is that in historical materialist theory a distinction can be made between the terms work and laborWork refers to a specific activity – sewing, weaving, painting, sculpting. Labor refers to the social relationship, primarily between different social groups, i.e., classes – wage labor, serfdom, slavery, petty craftsmanship. Art history has approached the avant-garde mainly from the aspect of artistic work – for example, how the avant-garde transformed work in the domain of painting into work in the domain of three-dimensional construction. This article tries to think of the avant-garde as a phenomenon that has transformed art in terms of artistic labor. The basis is the transition from constructivism to productivism in Soviet art in the 1920s, and especially Boris Arvatov's theoretical postulates.


Article received: March 12, 2022; Article accepted: June 21, 2022; Published online: September 15, 2022; Original scholarly paper

Author Biography

Nikola Dedić

Faculty of Music, University of Arts in Belgrade


Nikola Dedić (1980), Ph.D., Associate Professor. He graduated in art history at the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade and earned a doctorate in the theory of art and media at the University of Arts in Belgrade. Since 2014, he has been working as an associate professor at the Faculty of Music in Belgrade, where he teaches art history and applied aesthetics. From 2008 to 2014, he worked as an assistant professor at the Faculty of Philosophy in Niš, where he taught media theory and aesthetics. He is the author of a large number of monographs and dozens of articles in national and international professional journals. His books include Introduction to Socioeconomic Theory and History of Images (2021) and Between Artwork and Object (2017). He is a member of the international professional associations AICA (Association Internationale des Critiques d’Art), International Association of Aesthetics and Society for the Aesthetics of Architecture and Visual Arts of Serbia.


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How to Cite

Dedić, N. (2022). Avant-Garde Transformation of Artistic Labor: The Productivist View of Boris Arvatov. AM Journal of Art and Media Studies, (28), 145–163. https://doi.org/10.25038/am.v0i28.523