LONDON.- Rodchenko and Popova: Defining Constructivism will explore the work of Aleksandr Rodchenko (1891-1956) and Liubov Popova (1889-1924) from 1917 to 1929. Arguably two of the Russian avant-gardes most influential and important artists, they were integral to the stylistic and theoretical underpinning of Russian Constructivism. They rejected the idea of art for arts sake in favour of art as a practice directed towards social objectives.
The Russian Revolution of October 1917 was one of the greatest upheavals of the twentieth century. Its leaders envisioned a new society, thoroughly reshaped in accordance with their radical programme of social justice. Constructivism embraced this vision and sought to create new forms of art that would help to bring the new society into being. With the growth of industry, its practitioners were also influenced by, and used materials from, modern machinery and technology. Constructivists looked upon themselves as engineers and not necessarily artists: they believed they were the engineers of vision.
The exhibition will document the two artists promotion of multi-media practice. The display of Rodchenkos and Popovas utilitarian works will demonstrate the degree to which both artists influenced twentieth century fashion, media, theatre, cinema and graphic design. The show will include Rodchenkos iconic oeuvre of posters for the cinema, ranging from the renowned Battleship Potemkin directed by Sergei Eisenstein in 1925 to the iconic One-Sixth Part of the World directed by Dziga Vertov in 1926.
Highlights will include the two artists array of canvases produced between 1917 and 1921. Works from Popovas series of Painterly Architectonics and Spatial-Force Constructions lead up to a room dedicated to the 1921 exhibition entitled 5x5=25 organised by Popova and Rodchenko with their colleagues Aleksandra Ekster, Aleksandr Vesnin and Varvara Stepanova. This will feature Rodchenko's famous group of monochromatic canvases, Pure Red Colour 1921, Pure Yellow Colour 1921, Pure Blue Colour 1921.
Popova's early death, in 1924, prevented her from entering the last phase of Constructivism. From 1925, the Constructivists preoccupation was photography and cine-camera documentation of street life. This exhibition will demonstrate how Rodchenko used the camera to effectively portray new Soviet architecture, and to identify, through powerful portraits, the key players of the Constructivist movement.
Rodchenko and Popova: Defining Constructivism is curated by Russian born, American curator and scholar Dr Margarita Tupitsyn and Tate Modern Director Vicente Todolí with Ben Borthwick, Assistant Curator. The exhibition will open at Tate Modern on February 12 and run through May 17 then it will travel to Greek State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki, 18 June 20 September 2009 and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, 19 October 2009 31 January 2010.