Alexander Rodchenko

Alexander Mikhailovich Rodchenko (Russian: Александр Михайлович Родченко, scientific transliteration Aleksandr Rodchenko Michajlovič; * 23 Novemberjul / 5 December 1891greg in Saint Petersburg, .. † December 3, 1956 in Moscow) was a Russian painter, graphic artist, photographer and architect.

Life and work

Rodchenko was born the son of Mikhail Mikhailovich (1852-1907), landless farmers, and Olga Jewdokimowna (1856-1933) Rodchenko, washerwoman, 1930. His father worked as a prop man in " Russian Club " on Nevsky Prospekt, while the family lived in an apartment above. 1901 the family moved to Kazan, where Alexander Rodchenko to 1905 attended the school and was trained as a dental technician in 1908-09.

Kazan Art School

Rodchenko studied first with Feshin and Medvedew at the Art School of Kazan. In the period from 1910 to 1912 Rodchenko was painting the preference. His paintings from this period are rich in warm tones of red, yellow and ocher. Also, there are experiments with the contrasting colors blue-red, green-red. After 1912 his interest grew for Black. His art was in this period strongly influenced by Art Nouveau Aubrey Beardsley's drawings and influenced ( Female mannequin, 1913). During his studies he gave drawing lessons and painted decorations for clubs. At the Kazan Art School he met his future wife Varvara Stepanova know. 1914 Rodchenko attended the public readings of the Futurist poet Mayakovsky, Burliuk, Kamensky.

Moving to Moscow - Early career

In 1914 he finished the Kazan art school and moved to Moscow, where he studied for two years at the Stroganov School Sculpture and Architecture. From 1914 he turned to the subject lots to painting. In 1915 he prepared a series of abstract drawings, which are referred to as circular ruler series. In contrast to the abstract painting of Wassily Kandinsky, these images do not require additional theories and associations. After participating in the exhibition organized by Tatlin "Magazine" Rodchenko began in 1916 to show his work at Moscow exhibitions and was already considered one of the artists of the Russian avant-garde. 1917 design of the interior of the > Cafe Pittoresque < together with Tatlin, among others Yakulov From 1918 to 1922 he worked in the Department of Fine Arts (ISO, Russian Изобразительный Отдел ) of Narkompros ( Commissariat of Education, Russian Народный Коммиссариат Просвещения ) as head of the museum office and member of the art college. Chairman of the Acquisitions Committee for the > Museum of Artistic Culture, " along with Rosanowa responsible for the subdivision of the industrial arts. 1918-26 teacher of theory of painting at the Moscow > Proletcult school <.

Lineismus and spatial constructions

From September 1919 to October 1920 lived Rodchenko and his wife Varvara Stepanova in the house of Vasily Kandinsky in Dolgy -Gasse 8 From 1918 to 1920 they took part together on the 5th, 10th and 19th National Exhibition of paintings. 1919 Rodchenko began work on a large cycle of linear compositions, which he " Lineismus " called. The artist showed that the line in the painting and graphics can act as a stand-alone form. The next series of works, which formed in 1919, is even more radical and definitive in the conception of sculpture. Here is dispensed with the traditional base as well as a main view, a module principle is based on each plant. The Lineismus formed the basis of Rodchenko's spatial constructions, which he created in the years 1920/21. 1920-23 Member, it Inkhuk (Russian Институт Художественной Культуры ); Lecture > Line < ( 1921). The spatial constructions are generally formed from surface lines and figures, which are statically or dynamically placed at different angles on a shaft. In the beginning, the artist works with closed geometric structures consisting of straight sections of the form of a circle, triangle or rectangle, and solve simple spatial problems. Later he adds surface elements of curly contour and open shapes that bring the space admirably for validity and enhance the light and shadow effects. The subsequent spatial constructions represent the solution of complicated spatial relationships dar. Originally, the artist wanted to carry out the work of white light metal, but since you could get to this time, no refined metal, he had thin, white -painted plywood use.


The experimental sculptures by Tatlin and Rodchenko from the early 20s with its emphasis on simple material, the technical, functional and of the standardized forms have much in common with the later goals and ideas of minimalism as they put together about Andre and Donald Judd. So Rodchenko used simple raw rectangular wood the same length, which he had compiled without base in different formations.

A further step in the development means the series of objects from 1920-21. There are hanging from the ceiling, flexible constructions. The constructions are made of thin plywood, which has cut into various geometric shapes the artist: squares, hexagons, ellipses, including From these figures, the artist wide concentric elements cut turn out the same, the room automatically > show <, so that the surface of a three-dimensional sculpture. By moving the view side and the light is constantly changing.

Rodchenko was devoted to his wife Stepanova intensively the art as an experiment; the artist is here at the same time researchers and scientists who design the system, the appropriate use of materials are at the forefront of artistic experiments and analyzes. Both are central figures in the second phase of the Russian avant-garde, Constructivism, with its emphasis on technical development, production, purposive. For all practical applications but oscillates in Rodchenko theory of constructivism, a strong utopian train with the belief in a world that is organized according to clear principles to an immovable order in which every living thing has its place. This life, this simple thing, you have until now not seen, not known that it is so simple and so clear that one must only organize and get rid of everything superfluous. Work for life and not for palaces and temples, not for cemeteries and museums! Works under all, for all and with all. There is nothing eternal, it's all impermanent. Consciousness, experience, goal, mathematics, technology, industry and construction - which stands high above everything. Long live the constructive technique. Long live the constructive attitude in every activity. Long live the Constructivism ( Rodchenko 1921).

Alexander Rodchenko presented in 1921 in the exhibition > 5 x 5 = 25 < in Moscow a triptych consisting of three monochrome screens ( each 62x52, 5 cm) consisted in the colors red, yellow and blue. The artist said: " I ​​have brought the painting to its logical conclusion and exhibited three pictures: one red, one blue and one yellow, and this by noting: it is all over. There are the basic colors. Each face is a face, and there shall be no more representation. "Forty years later, Yves Klein surprised the art world with his" Triptych Red Gold Blue '( 1960).

End of Pure Art - productivism

From 1920 to 1923 Rodchenko and Stepanova were members of the Institute of Artistic Culture ( INKhUK, Russian Институт Художественной Культуры ). Rodchenko was head of the office of the " Museum of Culture" and member of the Presidium of the INKhUK, where he served from 1920 to 1921 the group for objective analysis.

In the 20s of the 20th century, he worked as a painter and graphic artist and created especially commissioned works. 1921 Rodchenko painted his last painting, a triptych in red, yellow and blue, which should signal the end of painting. Then he gave up the attempts and experiments in the field of pure art and turned to the productivist art. The ideology of productivism rejected the traditional function of art to be exhibited in museums or used as decoration. He occupied himself with work in the field of graphic design and crafts. According to the statement Rodchenko's art should leave the museum and become a member of social being in the form of objects. From this moment, the art Rodchenko assumes a social character. From 1920 to 1930 Rodchenko professor at the Vkhutemas and Vkhutein, 1922 Dean of the Faculty of metal processing.

In the years 1921/22, he tried his hand at the same time in the field of theater, film and the printing industry, took part in the competitions for badges, trademarks and utensils, worked on projects for workwear and made ​​sketches for a tea set. He also worked for Alexei goose magazine "Kino - fot ". From 1923, Rodchenko worked in the field of typography at the publishers ' Molodaja Gwardia "," Gosisdat "," pitcher "," Transpetschat " magazines " LEF "," Novy LEF ", etc. Trade advertising and polygraphy was the first area in which Rodchenko not just occasionally, but in 1923 was constantly active.

Book design and collage

His new circle of interests led to a close creative collaboration with the famous and influential poet Mayakovsky. He created illustrations for the poem > Pro eto "in which the poet sings of his love for Lily Brik and where Rodchenko their portraits mounted in different ages, in all kinds of variations and combinations. It creates a unique connection between photomontage and constructivist design, at the same time the verses Mayakovsky be modeled visually.

Together they verfertigten in almost two years, about 50 posters, nearly 100 company signs, packaging and candy wrappers templates, neon signs and image advertisements for newspapers and magazines. They worked for the department store GUM, Mosselprom, Gosisdat, Resinotorg and for trade unions. The content of Mayakovsky and Rodchenko's advertising activities grew far beyond the promotion of products of state-owned enterprises. The poet and the artist were agitating for the development of technology, the improvement of working conditions and other social concerns. Rodchenko's style of advertising graphics was simple and clear and in harmony with the laconic punning couplets of Mayakovsky. The advertising texts and images were maximum functional, free from any superfluous information. Rodchenko worked with large, easily shaped, easily legible letters and often used large exclamation and question mark. The application of the arrow in the composition, the symmetry of the arrangement of the characters and other graphic elements facilitating the decoding of the poster for the viewer.

Rodchenko was the first artist in the USSR, who began working with the technique of collage. The artist preferred abstract collages in which he made abstract combinations of nichtfigürlichen elements or by a combination of newspaper and photo fragments and nichtfigürlichen elements. From the collage Rodchenko went over to the photomontage.


From Dadaism influenced, he arrived on the photomontage to photography, where he became an important representative of the Russian Constructivists soon. He was particularly known for his unusual perspectives, but also by the strong abstract graphic effect of his recordings. Under the influence of the changed policy into the thirties, he turned to reportage and sport photography, before he gave up photography in 1942, and worked as a painter again.

Famous recordings are, for example, The stairs Girl with Leica or portrait of the mother. His standard cameras were Leica and the Soviet manufacturer FED FED ( Kharkov, Ukraine today ).


Alexander Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova have their daughter Varvara Rodchenko ( born 1925 ), also an artist. Their son Alexander Lavrentiev (born 1954 ) is a professor at the State Artistic- Technical Academy SG Stroganov Moscow.

The First Russian Art Exhibition Berlin 1922 showed Rodchenko's painting convention, design, composition, Black, Red Color, Composition, Suprematism, as well as some drawings for architectural projects.

Works (selection)