Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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12 / Conflict and Resistance

Artist / Origin Aleksandr (Alexander) Mikhailovich Rodchenko, (Russian, 1891–1956)
Date 1924
Material Color poster
Location Rodchenko Archive, Moscow, Russia
Credit © Estate of Alexander Rodchenko/RAO, Moscow/VAGA, New York. Courtesy of SCALA/Art Resource, NY

expert perspective

Jane Ashton SharpAssociate Professor of Art History, Rutgers University


» Aleksandr (Alexander) Mikhailovich Rodchenko, (Russian, 1891–1956)

expert perspective

Jane Ashton Sharp Jane Ashton Sharp Associate Professor of Art History, Rutgers University

The pre-revolutionary avant-garde experienced a tremendous sense of resistance to the Czarist state in the last years of the Russian Empire. So that when the revolution occurs, many of these artists are thrilled, elated, and view it as their mission to really join their forces in a way that had never existed previously—a kind of unity of leftist political fervor together with artists who had resisted all institutions of power prior to the revolution.

Rodchenko exhibited with the artists or students without a master, who became the ‘Society of Young Artists.’ That’s what they called themselves in 1920 and ’21 when they exhibited the works that we associate with Constructivism. These artists really desired a mass audience. That was the entire purpose, and to have viewers critically engaged in the process of looking at art and understanding art. The Constructivists in their production of these mass-distributed images could be really contained by the State.

It would have been very hard, I think, for someone like Rodchenko to oppose and have his work gain the kind of public visibility that it ultimately did gain if he had been resistant in some way.” 


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