Thursday, 28 February 2008


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.


Dale said...

:-) Your photos have always reminded me of his -- fun to see you connect with him!

MB said...

He's new to me, Jean, thank you. I am particularly taken with the last image, the way it plays with perspective, curves, horizon line.

Copernicus said...

You might be interested to know that there is Film about Rodchenko's work by Copernicus Films, using archive footage and locations in Moscow. The film is called "Alexander Rodchenko and the Russian Avant-garde" and is out on DVD. For more information check

Jean said...

Craig, thanks for the pointer to your films, which I would love to see. I have a friend who's lived in Russia and is a big fan of the Russian avant garde in general, so perhaps we can club together and get a set of the DVDs.

Planethalder said...

Oh, I can't wait to see this!!

Ian Bramham said...

He's one of my favourite photographers must have been a really exciting exhibition!

Seeing the work of famous photographers in a gallery is always so much better than looking at their photos in books or on line isn't it.

I know when I first saw some of Edward Steichen's photos in real life at a gallery in Paris I was spellbound by their intensity and power.