Soviet artist Alexander Rodchenko exhibition in London


This video is called Alexander Rodchenko and the Russian Avant-garde.

From British daily The Independent:

Rodchenko‘s revolution: a socialist with true vision …

Few artists embraced Bolshevism’s clarion call – “the streets are our brushes, the squares our palettes” – quite like Alexander Rodchenko.

Painter, photographer, filmmaker, set designer, teacher, metalworker, he revelled in the new freedoms thrown up by the Russian Revolution and was fiercely committed to liberating art for the masses.

Whether it was his blueprint for the ideal working man’s club showcased at the Paris Exhibition of 1925, his illustrated covers for engineering manuals or his pioneering film poster for Sergei Eisenstein‘s classic Battleship Potemkin, Rodchenko’s experimentation embodied the spirit of the early Soviet era. …

Today his influence lives on, not only inspiring modern-day photographers like Martin Parr, but his designs are perhaps best known for the art school chic they afford to the covers of records by the Scottish indie band Franz Ferdinand.

Now, next month, lovers of modernism and students of constructivism alike will be offered the chance to evaluate his legacy in much more detail at the first full exhibition of the artist’s work ever seen in Britain.

About 120 spectacular prints and photomontages will be on show at the Hayward Gallery alongside examples of his poster and magazine design work. …

By the time he died in 1956, despite having founded 22 provincial museums along with Vladimir Tatlin [see also here] and acquiring major avant-garde collections for many of them, he had been largely written out of Soviet history by the Kremlin.

But his reputation has grown in recent years as a visionary forerunner of the modern age.

Lilya Brik poster, by Rodchenko

One of the highlights of the forthcoming exhibition is an advertising poster for the publishing house Gosizdat, created in 1924 and featuring a portrait of the actress Lilya Brik shouting out the word “books”. To modern eyes, the picture is perhaps more familiar as the album cover of Franz Ferdinand’s You Could Have It So Much Better.

Brik was something of a muse to the Russian avant-garde of the early 20th century, most notably the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky – a long time associate of Rodchenko – with whom she conducted a high-profile and adulterous love affair.

The couple were the toast of Moscow’s artistic circles and Mayakovsky dedicated many of his poems to her, most famously “The Backbone Flute” in 1916. …

Rodchenko was at the height of his career when Brik modelled for him. Though he was classically trained as an artist, by the time of their collaboration Rodchenko had already taken the decision to shun painting and sculpture for photography, which he regarded as the perfect popular medium.

He tirelessly promoted photography as an art form and his influence quickly spread to the West. Today he is rated alongside Man Ray and Eugene Atget as one of the founding fathers of photography.

See also here.

JOHN GREEN recommends an eye-catching exhibition of early Soviet photography: here.

Photographer Annie Leibovitz: here.

Soviet architecture: here.

Eisenstein’s film October: here.

At the Jewish Museum in New York City. “The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film”—an exhibition: here.

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