Alexander Rodtschenko

(St. Petersburg 1891 - 1956 Moskau)

The son of a stage property master, Rodchenko enrolls at the Kazan Art School, where, in 1914, he meets his future wife Varvara Stepanova. In 1915, they move to Moscow, where he studies sculpture and architecture at the Stroganov Institute and, the following year, participates in avant-garde exhibitions. In 1917, after the overthrow of the tsar in March, he is a founding member and secretary of the painters’ union and, from 1918 on, works for the visual arts division of the People’s Commissariat for Education. Also in 1918, he produces a number of constructive compositions as well as a series of black paintings, a polemical rejoinder to Malevich’s series of white pictures. In 1918–1921, he develops three-dimensional constructions. From 1920 until 1924, he is a cofounder and member of the Institute of Artistic Culture (INKhUK); from 1920 until 1930, a professor at the Higher Art and Technical Studios VKhUTEMAS, later VKhUTEIN. After 1923, he gives up painting in favor of typography, photography, film, poster art and design, although he later returns to the medium. Rodchenko is one of the few artists to keep making Constructivist work under Stalin.