curated by Olga Sviblova
11 October 2011 - 8 January 2012
The Russian Avant-Garde in the 20th century was a unique development not simply in the context of Russian culture but in global cultural terms. The extraordinary creative energy generated by artists in that splendid season is still a source of inspiration for art today. Aleksandr Rodčenko (1891-1956) was unquestionably one of the most important driving forces behind this outburst of intellectual creativity, perfectly reflecting the spirit and the legendary aura of the age. Painting, design, theater, the cinema, graphic art and photography were the disciplines in which this fascinating artist developed his powerful talent, opening up new creative paths for the subsequent development of each one. The early twenties in Russia were a transition phase in which artistic and social experiments walked hand in hand. It was then -- in 1924 to be precise -- that Rodčenko focused his attention principally on photography, prompting a vigorous change in the very concept of photography as a means of expression. From having been a simple tool for the recording of reality, photography became a means for the dynamic depiction of the intellectual theories being constructed at the time. Rodčenko imbued photography with the principles of constructivist ideology, developing methods and tools for its implementation. The "Rodčenko" method, which included the use of diagonal compositions, of gradual loss of focus and of inverted direction, turned over time into a repertoire of "rhetorical figures" into which those artists, who believed in the possibility of turning the world into a better place and of radically improving civilization through subscription to the constructivist vocabulary, could dip. In the thirties, particularly toward the end of the decade, exasperated by the criticism and persecution of the Soviet regime, Rodčenko decided to call into question the more radical forms of his creative thinking and began to veer toward gradually embracing the aesthetic principles of Socialist Realism, yet without ever abandoning an original and creative approach to those principles. Thanks to the resolute preservation of his family archives, the immense legacy that is Rodčenko's work now forms part of the first museum in Russia devoted entirely to photography, the House of Photography of Moscow, which has worked both with his relatives and with leading experts in the field to promote a lengthy and meticulous research campaign, of which this exhibition is the result. Curated by Olga Sviblova, the director of the House of Photography of Moscow, the exhibition will display some 300 works, ranging from original photographs to photomontages and period prints.