The Hayward Gallery in London has an exhibition of photography and photomontage by Aleksander Rodchenko. I didn’t know his work at all, and was tremendously excited by it.
Such a progenitor he is, the first to take photographs with so many of the angles and approaches central to modern photography. The first to see and experiment with the potential of small, portable cameras. The first to shoot extreme close-ups, odd angles, people and buildings and shadows as abstract pattern; the first to shoot upwards and downwards and on the diagonal. So many of the kinds of images that come easily now to every untrained beginner photographer, the models we absorb as a natural part of the visual language around us: here he was using them for the first time.
A great proponent of the portable camera’s ability to popularise and democratise both production and consumption of images, he’d have been delighted, surely, by the digital revolution and how it has challenged the polarisation of professional/artistic photography and family snapshots, so that many, many of us untaught amateurs can revel now in the world of pattern, in creating and playing with images for their own sake and for all they might signify.