Exhibition shows revolutionaries of Russian avant-garde photography

By Christian Engel | 02 July 2014 | Updated: 01 July 2014

Alexander Rodchenko and students of the Soviet art school Vkhutemas are the subjects of London exhibition The Visual Revolution

A black and white photo of two Russian men holding cameras above a balcony
Russian photographers Georgy Petrusov and Arkadi Shaikhet, as seen by Georgi Zelma © Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery
Showing a selection of works by more than 100 grandmasters of Russian avant-garde photography, this exhibition, which features
Alexander Rodchenko, Max Alpert and Simon Fridland, includes the Constructivist-Suprematist period of the 1920s, the Socialist-Realist period during the 1930s and World War II photography.

A black and white photo of a bridge curving over a river
Max Alpert, Untitled© Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery
The work of Rodchenko and the leading Moscow art school, the Vkhutemas Workshop (Russian acronym for Higher Art and Technical School) is at its core.

Rodchenko made photography history by using perspectives such as bird’s eye and worm’s eye views, also becoming the first to apply diagonal perspectives to street sceneries.

Rodchenko influenced generations of designers, architects and photographers, seeking to depict the discrepancy between "high" and "low" culture in Soviet society.

He paid equal attention to formal artistic concerns and the depiction of social and political life in Soviet Russia.

The Vkhutemas Workshop, where Rodchenko taught as a professor, was founded by Lenin in 1920 and lasted only ten years until 1930.

In this brief period it produced a number of significant artists and helped to establish important art schools such as constructivism, rationalism and suprematism.

Although already used in Russia at the turn of the century, it was not before the Social Revolution in 1917 that the Soviets appreciated photography more than paintings.

Thereafter, photography was used as a propaganda tool, "truthfully" portraying everyday life and culture in the new socialist state.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A black and white photo of an infant
Georgi Lipskerov, Paransha, Burka, Central Asia© Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery
An overhead photo of masses of people formed into blocks of lines army-style
Alexander Rodchenko, Military Parade (1935-36)© Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery
A black and white photo of an athlete jumping over a pole
Alexander Rodchenko, High Jumper© Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery
A black and white photo of groups of people inside a stadium performing acrobatics
Alexander Rodchenko, Dynamo Stadium (1936)© Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery
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