Alexander (Mikhailovich) Rodchenko
A renowned artist of the Russian avant-garde, an industrial and graphic designer, one of the founders of Constructivism, avant-garde photography, Soviet design and advertising.
Born on 5th December, 1891 in St. Petersburg. 1910-1914 attended Kazan School of Art. At the end of 1910 performed pieces of abstract composition, then sided with the radical (left-wing) art movement aimed at combining art with industry.
In 1920 became one of the founders and activists at the Institute of Art Culture, where the artistic principles of productivism, constructivism and design were formed.
From 1920 to 1930 was one of the leading professors at the Higher Technical-Artistic Studios (VkhUTEMAS) as well as the High School of Art and Technology (VKhUTEIN). There, as at Bauhaus, pedagogical bases of the designers’ professional training were developed.
From 1922 a member of the art association LEF (the Left-wing Arts Front), a leading contributor to the LEF (1923-1925) and Novy LEF (1927-1928) journals.
During the 1920s the author of many design projects. Among the most famous are the décor and furniture of a workmen’s club, exhibited at the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts and Production in Paris in 1925. Worked much in the field of book and magazine graphics, illustrating LEF publications, books of Vladimir Mayakovsky’s poetry, magazines Zhurnalist, SSSR na Stroike and others. Along with Mayakovsky, was one of the founders of Soviet advertising, concentrating on different styles of printing and outdoor advertising. Designed many advertising posters including those featuring Mayakovsky’s poetry and film posters for Dziga Vertov and Sergei Eisenstein. His advertising graphics and posters were characterized by clarity of the ideas and design, brightness, simplicity and minimalist nature of the image. Theatre and cinema work included designing furniture and costumes for the play “Klop”, based on Mayakovsky’s work, performed at Vsevolod Meyerhold Theatre (1929).
Throughout the 1930s concentrated primarily on photography and book design. Many works combine strict realism, a tangible objectivity of image with the expressionism of composition through the medium of light (black and white). One of the first artists to use photomontage and photogram techniques, experimenting with sharpness of the image, setting the principles of sharp foreshortening and framing which influenced photographic styles world-wide. During the 1940-50s worked as a cameraman, as an artist for the Museum of Revolution and the Technology House in Moscow. Many of his works were created in close collaboration with his wife, Varvara Stepanova (1894-1958). Died 3rd December, 1956 in Moscow. The School of Photography and Multimedia in Moscow is named after Rodchenko. His works are kept in the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Bakhrushin Theatre Museum, the State Museum of V.V. Mayakovsky and many other major museums world-wide.