'The Man with the Movie Camera' by Alexander Rodchenko in 1929

World of Art

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Aleksander Mikhailovich Rodchenko, 1891 to 1956, was a Russian artist, sculptor, photographer and graphic designer. He was one of the founders of constructivism and Russian design and was married to the artist Varvara Stepanova. Rodchenko was one of the most versatile Constructivist and Productivist artists to emerge after the Russian Revolution. He worked as a painter and graphic designer before turning to photomontage and photography. His photography was socially engaged, formally innovative, and opposed to a painterly aesthetic. Concerned with the need for analytical-documentary photo series, he often shot his subjects from odd angles—usually high above or down below—to shock the viewer and to postpone recognition. He wrote: One has to take several different shots of a subject, from different points of view and in different situations, as if one examined it in the round rather than looked through the same key-hole again and again. He taught from 1920 to 1930 at the Higher Technical-Artistic Studios VKhUTEMAS/VKhUTEIN, a Bauhaus organization with a checkered career. It was disbanded in 1930. In 1921 he became a member of the Productivist group, with Stepanova and Aleksei Gan, which advocated the incorporation of art into everyday life. He gave up painting in order to concentrate on graphic design for posters, books, and films. He was deeply influenced by the ideas and practice of the filmmaker Dziga Vertov, with whom he worked intensively in 1922. Impressed by the photomontage of the German Dadaists, Rodchenko began his own experiments in the medium, first employing found images in 1923, and from 1924 on, shooting his own photographs as well. His first published photomontage illustrated Mayakovsky's poem About This in 1923
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