I haven’t been posting to this as much as I intended. So many other things get in the way, both within the course (masses and masses and masses of background reading) and in life. Still, I have at last finished the essay on Aleksandr Rodchenko, submitted it in accordance with the correct procedure, and I am trying to put out of my mind all the things wrong with it. It certainly made me think a lot more about Rodchenko – he was not only a great artist and photographer, but a complex and in some ways disturbing personality. It’s fascinating that he was a key member of the avant-garde movement in pre-revolutionary Russia, defining the start of abstract painting, yet because he stayed, committing himself to the Soviet regime, he is much less known than other Russian artists of his generation who moved West, like Wassily Kandinsky, or Marc Chagall. There has been relatively little written about him, and his work deserves wider recognition.
Going through his pictures, I found this lovely portrait of his daughter Varvara, which immediately made me think of Chagall. I couldn’t use it for the essay, as I had already overrun the word count, but I really like it, so here it is. Although most of his photography was public and relatively impersonal, from the mid-1930s his work became much more private and emotional, and he even turned to figurative painting, which he had previously rejected. Another image I found on Pictify was the one below, of Evgenia (the subject of Woman with a Leica)– it couldn’t go in the essay, as frustratingly I don’t have a proper reference for it, but its intimacy would have added to my argument that Rodchenko’s images of her are in effect enactments of their relationship. Whether my tutor agrees, I can only hope.