Biography

Alexander Rodchenko (1891-1956) was a Russian artist, sculptor, photographer and graphic designer. Together with his wife Varvara Stepanova he was at the forefront of Constructivist art and a major figure of the avant-garde between the two World Wars. During the Russian Revolution of October 1917, leaders looked toward a new society and social justice. New forms of art were inspired and embraced to actualize these ideals. Rodchenko was among the most talented artists that engaged with the new social ideologies. 

Rodchenko came into artistic maturity with the Revolution and was able to constantly reinvent himself. From 1918 to 1921 he pursued a program of abstract painting and sculpture. In 1921, he proclaimed "painting is dead" and explored new mediums. This led him to new fields of poster and book designs, photocollage, photography, stage and cinema set designs. He collaborated with the filmmaker Dziga Vertov in 1922 and from 1923 with poet Vladimir Mayakovsky on a number of projects, including Mayakovsky's book Pro Eto (1923).  Rodchenko's first photographs appeared in 1924, he created portairts of his family and friends (his mother, Mayakovsky, Lili Brik, etc.). In 1923 Rodchenko became the principle designer for the magazines LEF and New LEF, a publication of LEF group of avant-garde writers and intellectuals. Rodchenko became a leading avant-garde photographer, producing formallist street scenes, images with unexpected dramatic diagonal compositions and contrast of light and shadow. He often shot his subjects from the 'bird's eye' view or from the ground to achieve a stronger lasting impact on the viewer. Rodchenko joined October cirlce of artists in 1928, but was expelled three years later for "formalism." In 1933 he photographed the construction of the White Sea Canal for the 12th issue of the USSR in Construction. He collaborated with this magazine until the outbreak of war in 1941. 

As a kely figure of Russian mondernism, Rodchenko redefined photography and graphic design.