Rodchenko and Popova: Defining Constructivism

October 21, 2009 - January 11, 2010 /
Sabatini Building, Floor 1

This exhibition brings together the work of two key exponents in the stylistic and theoretical definition of Russian Constructivism: Liubov Popova (Ivanovskoïe, Russia, 1889 - Moscow, 1924) and Alekxander Rodchenko (San Petersbourg, Russia, 1891 - Moscow, 1956). It constitutes the most complete selection of works to date of these two artists, amassing around 350 pieces realised between 1917 and 1929 by both that includes: paintings, cinema and theatre posters, sketches of clothing designs, furniture, books, photographs, documentaries and work by their contemporaries.

Rodchenko y Popova. Definiendo el constructivismo (Rodchenko and Popova. Defining Constructivism) highlights the influence of the work of the these two artists on current aesthetic practices, inherited from Constructivist tradition, that continue to combine art and politics. The exhibition begins in 1917, the year of the October Revolution when Popova and Rodchenko apply the design of previous experiments to Geometrical Abstraction. Both artists transform painting into the testing of abstract forms that are capable of influencing early theories of constructivist architecture and new socialist cities, convinced that abstract language has the potential to change daily life. These years see them break away from Malevich's Suprematism, Tatlin's Constructivism and Kandinsky's Expressionism.

Shortly after Constructivism is defined as a movement, Popova and Rodchenko renounce painting in the exhibition '5 x 5 = 25' held in Moscow in 1921 together with Varvara Stepanova, Aleksandr Vesnin and Aleksandra Exter, all present in this exhibition. This is the point of no return for the militant, and more radicalised, avant-garde and for the transition from painting to other mediums as they apply their formal approaches to a variety of public sectors. Furthermore, the Constructivist experience encompasses design for cinema and theatre as well as for posters, books, fashion and furniture. The exhibition combines both artists' original contributions to utilitarian works, giving particular relevance to collective work and the implications on local industry, and portrays the degree to which both have influenced 20th century fashion, audiovisual media, theatre and cinema.

Following Popova's death in 1924, Rodchenko focuses his work soleley on photography and cinema. His photography faithfully reflecting new Soviet architecture and identifying, through vivid portraits, the key figures in the Constructivist movement. Rodchenko also becomes involved in film as an art director and designer in the credits to Boris Barnet's film Moscow in October (1927), which also features in the exhibition.

Exhibition´s details

Organized by: 
Tate Modern, London in collaboration with Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
Margarita Tupitsyn and Vicente Todolí
Exhibition Tour: 

Tate Modern, London (February 12, 2009 - May 17, 2009); Greek State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki (June 18, 2009 - September 20, 2009)

James Abbe, Boris Barnet, Alexandra Exter, Aleksei Gan, Mikhail Kaufman, Lev Kuleshov, Henri Manuel, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Lyubov Popova, Irina Presnetsova, Aleksandr Ródchenko, Varvara Stepanova, Aleksei Temerin, Dziga Vertov, Aleksander Vesnin View more