Russian Photographer | Born: 1891 - Died: 1956
Born in St Petersburg on November 23rd, 1891, Aleksander Rodtchenko was one of the most eclectic artists to emerge from the Russian Revolution. Sculptor, painter, photographer and graphic designer, he is the founder of the “Russian Constructivist” movement and was also very influential in Photography and Russian Design.
In 1907, after his father’s death, his family moved to Kazan.
In 1910, he began studies at the Kazan Art School, where he met his future wife Varvara Stepanova.
In 1914, he moved to Moscow where he pursued briefly his artistic studies at the Stroganov Institute. In 1915, using a compass and a ruler, he created his first geometric black and white drawings.
In 1916, introduced to Tatline by architect Viktor Vesnine, Aleksander Rodtchenko will exhibit his drawings at the “The Store” exhibition alongside painters Lioubov Popova, Alexander Exter and Ivan Klioune. Alexander Rodtchenko’s work was influenced by innovative Cubist and Futuristic artists.
In 1917, he applied his Futurism research on everyday life objects and designed lamps for the “Pittoresque Café”, newspaper stands, buildings etc…
It is at that time that he founded the left wing “Painter Syndicat”. Following the Russian Revolution, as most avant-gardist Russian artists, he will become a member of several official schools (Proletkoult, Vkhoutemas), where he will become a teacher.
In 1919, he will present his “black on black” paintings to answer Malevitch’s “White on White” series. It is also at that time that he started experimenting with collages and photomontages.
In 1921, he took part in various exhibitions, one called “5x5=25”, where he presented a Monochrome triptych. Each canvas presenting a primary color: Red, yellow and blue. At the end of the exhibition, he signed the “Productivist Manifest” to abandon easel painting to focus on everyday life objects. The same year, in March, the “Constructivist” movement was created within the Inkhouk Institute. Initiated by artists, critics and theoricians its aim was to conduct “concrete experiments in the real world”.
From 1922 onwards he started producing graphic designs for movie, books and political billboards.
In 1923, he started collaborating with various editors and till 1925, he illustrated the cover of Constructivist magazine LEF. Influenced by German Dadaist photomontages, Rodtchenko began experimenting with photographs in 1923. His first photomontage illustrated Mayakovsky’s poem “About this”.
From 1924 onwards, his focus was on photography. He started experimenting on new compositions and techniques. His work emphasized the subject’s position and movement in space combined with a diagonal framing. He also produced many portraits.
In 1925, he was responsible for the Soviet Pavilion at the “International Industrial and Modern Art fair” held in Paris.
In 1933, he was commissioned by Russian magazine SSSR na Stroïké, to photograph the construction of the Baltic Sea Canal.
From 1934 to 1939 Rodtchenko and Stepanova, produced several photo albums: “Fifteen years of Soviet Cinema, Soviet Aviation, Ten years of Ouzbekistan”.
During the second world war, as other artists, he fled Moscow and took refuge in the Perm region where he will produce patriotic billboards.