Alexander Rodchenko

Russian and Soviet graphic designer, photographer, sculptor, painter, theater designer, and theorist, born in St. Petersburg and worked in Moscow, Rodchenko was one of the founders of Russian Constructivism, whose body of work in a broad variety of media constituted an exploration of a new approach to design in revolutionary Russia. Rodchenko’s early experimentation with two- and three-dimensional constructions formed the basis for his continued use of line in order to emphasize structure, strength, and economy in all of his design work. As a teacher at the VKhUTEMAS from 1920 until its closure in 1930, he and his students undertook projects that engaged a deep understanding of formal criteria in creating prototype objects for the new proletarian lifestyle, whereby objects would meaningfully engage the user rather than be passively consumed. He tended to design for the stage, screen, and exhibitions in order to showcase his concepts for postrevolutionary objects, rather than engage directly with industry. As a graphic designer, his collaborations with poet Vladimir Mayakovsky in the design of books and advertisements engaged techniques of construction and photomontage to develop a striking visual rhetoric, influenced a range of artists during the 1920s. After 1930, Rodchenko worked predominantly as a photographer, developing a documentary style that opposed painterly aesthetics in photography.

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