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Which clippings match 'Alexander Rodchenko' keyword pg.1 of 2
15 FEBRUARY 2017

Silent-era avant-garde artist-filmmakers disrupting the new realities of mass media (rather than replicating them)

"Around the time Shub started her documentary experiments, 20th century avant-garde artists likewise began using repurposed chunks of mass-produced ephemera. Picasso and Braque threw bits of newspaper into paintings; Max Ernst cut up Victorian illustrations to create proto-surrealist collages; Walter Benjamin, T. S. Eliot, and James Joyce pushed the literary practice of quotation into the realm of pastiche; Marcel Duchamp pioneered sculptural assemblage with his readymades; and photomontage blossomed in the graphic works of John Heartfield, Hannah Höch, and Alexander Rodchenko. These works rearranged reality to suit their artists' purposes but, unlike the compilation films, did not try to hide that manipulation. Whether Cubist, Dada, or Constructivist, these artists chose to disrupt the new realities of mass media rather than replicate them, savoring the illogic of dreamlike disjunctions and precipitating new ways to see all-too-common images."

(Ed Halter, 10 July 2008, Moving Image Source)

TAGS

20th centuryAlexander Rodchenkoavant-garde artistsavant-garde cinemaconstructivistcubismcut-up techniqueDadadisruptiondocumentary experiments • dreamlike disjunctions • Ed Halter • Esther Shub • experimental film • found-footage • Georges Braque • Hannah Hochinfluential artistsJames JoyceJohn Heartfield • literary practice • Marcel Duchampmass media • mass-produced ephemera • Max Ernst • new realities • Pablo Picassopastichephotomontagepioneering filmmaker • proto-surrealist collages • quotationreadymade • repurposed archival material • Russian constructivism • sculptural assemblage • Thomas Stearns Eliot • Victorian illustrations • Walter Benjamin

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
27 APRIL 2013

Factory, a Pictorial Epoch of Technology by Jakob Tuggener

"Fabrik – Ein Bildepos der Technik von Jakob Tuggener, (Factory – a Pictorial Epoch of Technology by Jakob Tuggener, 1943). An unusual sequence contrasts lathes, melting furnaces, turbines and generators with single portraits of workers; the sharp contours of a carved wooden mask or the natural resources of industrial energy such as sluices and waterfalls. These images may be reminiscent of Rodchenko, but they never seem apologetic or nostalgic about technological progress. The book is rich in formal references, while numerous little stories form pictorial narratives. These include, for example, an almost cinematic sequence of a young woman called Berti, who, with blueprints under her arm, rushes along beside a high brick façade before vanishing through a metal door. The camera constantly shifts between Berti's face and the scenes that surround her.

Unlike many of his more politically motivated colleagues such as Paul Senn, who concentrated on the world of workers and farmers, Tuggener took many photographs of the wealthy. During the 40s, with almost post–Modern enjoyment, he joined the rich and beautiful at their balls held in the Hotel Palace in St Moritz, a place where war–profiteers met in the unreal quiet of the Swiss mountains. Tuggener created a series of trance–like photographs, which look like film stills, depicting sparkling crystal glasses, heavy silver cutlery and chandeliers; bare shoulders and low–cut back décolletages juxtaposed with a plate of German sausages shining with grease; the exchange of flirtatious glances and brief hand contacts. He also took superb images of fetishistic details, such as an ornamented room key, ambiguously held by slender fingers in a black velvet glove. It is these minimal details which hint at the complex stories which lie at the heart of Tuggener's oeuvre."

(Hans Rudolf Reust: Translated by Imke Werner, 2000 Issue 53 June–August 2000, Frieze)

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1940s1943Alexander Rodchenko • Berti • brick wall • chandelierscinematic sequence • complex stories • decolletage • documentary photographer • Ein Bildepos der Technik • expressionist aesthetic • Fabrik • facadefactory • fetishistic details • film stills • flirtatious glances • Frieze (magazine) • history of photography • industrial energy • Jakob Tuggener • Paul Senn • photographic portrait • Pictorial Epoch of Technology • pictorial narrative • rich and beautiful • St Moritz • Swisstechnological progress • war-profiteer • wealthy • worker

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
18 NOVEMBER 2011

The Commissar Vanishes: retouching Soviet Russian history

"The Commissar Vanishes is an installation of haunting images from the David King Collection, which coincides with the Russian publication of the book of the same name that traces the falsification of photographs and art in Stalin's Russia.

Like their counterparts in Hollywood, photographic retouchers in Soviet Russia spent long hours smoothing out the blemishes of imperfect complexions, helping the camera to falsify reality. But it was during the Great Purges, which raged in the late 1930's, that a new form of falsification emerged. The physical eradication of Stalin's political opponents at the hands of the secret police was swiftly followed by their obliteration from all forms of pictorial existence. Photographs for publication were retouched and restructured with airbrush and scalpel to make once–famous personalities vanish. Entire editions of works by denounced politicians and writers were banished to the closed sections of the state libraries and archives or simply destroyed. Soviet citizens, fearful of the consequences of being caught in possession of material considered 'anti–Soviet' or 'counterrevolutionary', were forced to deface their own copies of books and photographs.

The subject matter of this exhibit focuses on one particularly evocative example: in 1934 the artist/designer/photographer Alexander Rodchenko was commissioned by the state publishing house OGIZ in Moscow to design the album, Ten Years of Uzbekistan, celebrating a decade of Soviet rule in that state. The Russian edition, full of Rodchenko's skillful design techniques, appeared the same year and the Uzbek edition, with some politically induced changes, in 1935. But in 1937, at the height of the terror, Stalin ordered a major overhaul of the Uzbek leadership and heads began to roll. Many Party bosses photographed in Ten Years of Uzbekistan were liquidated. The album suddenly became illegal literature. Using thick black India ink, Rodchenko was compelled to deface his own book. This installation now brings together, in the form of photographic enlargements, the published portraits of the high–ranking officials victimised in Stalin's Uzbek purge, juxtaposed with their eradication by Rodchenko's hand. The macabre results – ethereal, Rothko–like, sometimes brutal and terrifying – came close to creating a new art form, a graphic reflection of the real fate of the victims."

(The Photographers' Gallery)

David King (1997). "The Commissar Vanishes".

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1930sairbrushedAlexander Rodchenko • banishment • blemishcensorshipdeface • denounced politician • eradication • erasureethereal • evocative • falsification • falsify realityfamous personalitiesgraphic representation • Great Purges • haunting images • heads roll • historical revisionism • illegal • imperfectionJoseph Stalin • Leon Trotsky • liquidated • macabreobliterate • OGIZ • photo manipulationphoto retouching • photographed • photographic enlargements • photographic retouchers • photographs • pictorial existence • portraitradical communist landscapereality • retouched • retouchingRussiaRussian historyscalpel • secret police • Soviet history • Soviet Russia • Ten Years of Uzbekistan • vanish • visual depiction

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
03 OCTOBER 2011

Rodchenko's revolution: a socialist with true vision

"Painter, photographer, filmmaker, set designer, teacher, metalworker, [Alexander Rodchenko] 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.

But just as he thrived in the intellectual ferment of the Lenin years, like so many other artists–cum–revolutionaries of the period he was to fall foul of Stalin's increasingly paranoid and brutal regime.

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."

(Arifa Akbar and Jonathan Brown, 2 January 2008, The Independent)

Alexander Rodchenko (1925). "Lengiz books on all subjects!"

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19252004Alexander Rodchenkoanimationart school • artist-cum-revolutionary • bandBattleship Potemkin (1925)design formalism • engineering manuals • figures in spacefilm posterfilmmakerFranz Ferdinandhomageidealism • illustrated covers • indie band • Joseph Stalin • liberating art for the masses • Martin Parr • metalworker • modernist aestheticsmotion graphicsmusic videopainter • Paris Exhibition • photographerphotomontagepioneeringposter design • record cover • regimerevisionRussian artistRussian constructivismRussian design • Russian Revolution • Scottishsequence designSergei Eisenstein • set designer • Soviet era • Take Me Out • typographyvisual communicationvisual designvisual literacyVladimir Lenin

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
14 FEBRUARY 2009

Russia's post-revolutionary architecture

"The creatively brilliant culture that flourished in Russia after the 1917 Revolution might be revered in the West – next month Tate Modern hosts Rodchenko & Popova: Defining Constructivism, the second major London exhibition on the Russian Modernist master in less than a year. But in Russia the period is still deeply controversial. After Joseph Stalin crushed the Russian avant–garde in the 1930s, the post–revolutionary period was almost erased from its history books. It still carries a stigma, says the historian Anna Bronovitskaya. 'Modernist aesthetics have never recovered from Stalin's denouncement,' she says. 'The wider public was never taught to appreciate modern, let alone contemporary art and architecture. It remains very conservative in its tastes.'

What Stalin was so keen to crush, and what has remained partly hidden ever since, was an immense revolutionary outpouring of energy, freedom and imagination that touched almost every form of culture. With the old order reversed, anything could happen. What Russia's artists, filmmakers, playwrights, writers and designers were imagining was nothing less than the shape of socialist Utopia, and it found its fullest expression in architecture. The buildings erected in Russia between the fall of the Romanovs and the rise of Stalin are the greatest concentration of Modernist architecture anywhere in the world, but, thanks to Stalin, and the Cold War, also the least well known. They are certainly among the most thrilling. The various architectural groups that flourished in the 1920s – Constructivists, Rationalists, Urbanists, Unurbanists – clashed over the precise form this Soviet Utopia should take. But between them, and backed by a state then eager to create a radical communist landscape, they built a vast catalogue of buildings – factories, dams, railway stations, government complexes, new cities, cultural centres, and entirely new building types, like communal housing and workers' clubs to re–educate the masses – which Rodchenko himself photographed as the face of new revolutionary Russia.

Western architects such as Le Corbusier looked on in envy. Just as the Bolsheviks experimented with new forms of government, so a new generation of Modernist architects such as Melnikov, Ivan Leonidov and the Vesnin brothers were encouraged to rip up the rulebook, creating new buildings of dizzying geometry, abstract shapes, thrilling collisions and bold new spaces – communal kitchens to release women from domestic drudgery – designed to socially engineer the new socialist citizen.

The project came to a grinding halt after Stalin's purges. Socialist Realism was imposed in architecture as much as in art, music and literature. The bold Modernist experiments in architecture were condemned as 'trash' and 'primitive boxes'; many were even 'improved' with traditional embellishments. Architects such as Melnikov were banned from practising and reviled. Ever since, says David Sarkisyan, director of Schusev, Russia's state architectural museum, 'Russia's post–revolutionary architecture has been in a catastrophic state'."
(The Times Online 24 January 2009)

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Alexander Rodchenkoarchitectureavant-garde • Constructivists • Ivan Leonidov • Joseph StalinLe Corbusier • Melnikov • modernismmodernist aesthetics • Popova • radical communist landscape • Rationalists • RussiaRussian designUK • urbanists • Vesnin brothers

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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