Biography

Varvara Stepanova (1894-1958) was one of the most influential Rusian artists of the 20th-century and a defining figure of Constructivist art. Together with her husband Alexander Rodchenko, whom she met at Kazan Art School in Odessa, Stepanova lived and worked in the heart of the Russian avant-garde. Her extraordinary œuvre includes poetry, painting, graphic art, typography, book design, theater and textile design.

Stepanova believed strongly in the role of art as a productive means to aid the development of Soviet society, and designed everything from posters and books to sets and costumes for the theater. She also participated actively in the industrial production of textiles and, along with Lyubov Popova, worked for a year as a textile designer at the First State Textile Factory near Moscow, where she produced more than 150 fabric designs. Stepanova was a participant in the famous 5x5=25 exhibition in Moscow in 1921, along with Rodchenko, Popova, and fellow artists Aleksandra Ekster and Alexander Vesnin. In the early 1920s she made collages for the magazine Kino-Fot, and in 1924 she became professor of textile design at the state-run art and technical school VKhuTEMAS. From the late 1920s through 1930s Stepanova worked predominantly as a book and magazine designer.