Alexander Rodchenko (Russian artist)
Aleksander Rodchenko was a Russian artist, graphic designer and photographer.
Background and history
Rodchenko was born on the 5th of December, 1891. He is revered as one of the founders of the Russian design and constructivism, and also known as one of the most flexible constructivist and productivist artist who emerged during the Russian Revolution.
Rodchenko initially worked as a painter and graphic designer but later changed to photography and photomontage. Most of his photography was socially betrothed, aesthetic and mainstream innovative. He was noted for shooting his subjects from odd angles usually on a bird or a worm’s perspective. He was married to the artist Varvara Stepanova.
Style of Art
Rodchenko is known to have been a revolutionary photographer in both aesthetical and political aspects. Rodchenko was also a furniture and theater designer and worked with various media. As an art theorist and tutor, he started teaching at Higher State Art-Technical Studios (VKhUTEMAS). He was also one of the authors who wrote the Constructivists’ manifesto. This is a manifesto that advocated the utilization of mechanization products like sheet metal, glass and wire in art which would be socially useful especially at a time when the Russian society was undergoing a revolution.
Motivated by his commercial designs and illustration, Rodchenko turned to photography in the 1924. This is because he wanted to include his own imagery into the photomontages that he had initiated in 1923. That marked a turning point in his life and photomontage became one of his favorite techniques. He took a strong liking to the camera and he viewed it as a drawing instrument that was highly favored. His trademark techniques were non-vertical angles of the camera and foreshortening. He advised upcoming photographers to shoot from different position as if they were looking the object over.
Most of the works that have been done in the 20th century have derived a lot of influence from Rodchenko’s previous works in the field. In fact, it would be almost impossible to point out all the artists whose works have been influenced by Rodchenko’s work although we can point out that Barbara Kruger of United States owes Rodchenko’s work a debt.
Rodchenko’s portrait of Lilya Brik which was done in 1924 has motivated numerous works including a number of albums’ covers like The Ex Band from the Netherlands which produced a number of albums with the covers portraying a variation of the Lilya Brik. Rodchenco became a member of the October circle of artist in 1928 but was excluded in 1931 after he was charged with ‘formalism.’ He would return to painting in the late 1930s. In 1942, he stopped photographing and wold later produce abstract expressionist works in the 1940s.
End of Painting
When the Russian Bolsheviks took power, Rodchenko declared the death of painting and took to photography. He claimed that photography was more objective and at the same time it was modern and hence free from the taint of bourgeois subjectivity and hence, photography was seen as a crucial tool that could be used by the dictatorship of the proletariat.
In the USSR in Construction magazine that was designed by Rodchenko, there was the portrayal of radical photographic style that was combined with cutting edge graphics. This magazine was used to showcase the achievements of the Soviet system. One of his famous works was the White Sea Canal which was Rodchenko’s most international triumph in the USSR in Construction. This is because he harnessed photography to the greatest effect. Rodchenko died in 1956 in Moscow aged 65 years.
Notable Auction Sales
On March 30, 2007, European Evaluators LLC sold Alexandre Rodchenko’s Sulky Huile sur toile for €8,500. One of the most expensive auction sale was also conducted by European Evaluators LLC which was sold for Rodchenko’s Composition géomét on December 21, 2007 at Madison Avenue, New York. It was estimated to raise between €120,000 and €150,000 and realized a price of €90,000.
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