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Rodchenko and Stepanova. Football

In honor of the fact that Russia is hosting the 2018 Football World Cup, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts is presenting the exhibition “RODCHENKO AND STEPANOVA. FOOTBALL.” The small exhibition will include 9 paintings, graphic artworks, and photographs on the topic of football and sports from the Rodchenko-Stepanova holdings of the Department of Private Collections.

Alexander Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova had both a personal union and an artistic union. They first met in 1914, and they lived and worked together for more than 40 years.  The leading masters of Russian avant-garde and the founders of constructivism, they took part in the significant exhibitions and artistic movements of their time, and they taught at VKhUTEMAS (Higher Art and Technical Studios), helping younger generations to shape the new vision of art. With their minds set only on the future, Rodchenko and Stepanova’s endless artistic innovations led to the development of new shapes and ideas, aiming to make the most of minimalism and logic in their art.

    • The theme of sport and physical fitness was one of the brightest spots in the artistic legacy of Alexander Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova. As they created new art and new spaces for modern life, Rodchenko and Stepanova keenly reacted to the development of sports culture in the emerging Soviet society. They became advocates of the cult of athleticism in their artworks from the end of the 1920s to the beginning of the 1940s.
    • They used sports motifs in various paintings and graphical artworks portraying athletes, games, and competitions. Alexander Rodchenko made unique photographic reports from sports parades, which were held frequently in Moscow in the 1930s. Football was Rodchenko’s favorite game. His football-themed art works are always saturated with drama and expressiveness, rendering the player’s competitiveness during the game. The football player’s uniforms designed by Varvara Stepanova are defined by plain shapes and contrasting color combinations.
    • Marina Loshak, Director of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts: “The Pushkin Museum, while remaining true to traditions, always stays in step with the times and follows both current events and the future. We could not miss the opportunity to recognize such a major event as the World Cup, and we are making preparations: in June we are opening a small but enlightening exhibition of works by Alexander Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova dedicated to football. There is no one better than these artistic revolutionaries to present the union of the museum and sports.”  
    • Inna Voytova, Curator: “Alexander Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova were some of the first to explore the theme of sports in Soviet art. Their pioneer activities were supported by other sots realist artists, such as Alexander Deineka, Alexander Samokhvalov, Dmitry Zhilinskiy, and many others. The sports theme was very popular in the art of the 1920s–1940s, and it remains a relevant theme now.” 
    • In 1992 Varvara A. Rodchenko and Alexander N. Lavrentiev donated the legacy of Alexander Rodchenko and Varvara Stepanova to the Department of Private Collections of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. This is the largest collection of the artists’ work in the world. It includes over 500 pieces from all periods of their creative career, representing their entire artistic spectrum: painting, original graphics and prints, stage designs, commercial posters, industrial designs, collages, photographs, and 3D structures. 
    • Alexander Mikhailovich Rodchenko (1891 – 1956) was a Soviet painter, graphic artist, photographer, designer, sculptor, and poster artist. He was born in Saint Petersburg to a property master and a laundress. After his family moved to Kazan, he attended the Kazan Art School, where he met his future wife and artistic partner Varvara Stepanova. In 1916 he moved to Moscow and entered Stroganov Moscow State University of Arts. He was one of the founders of the artists’ trade union. From 1918 until 1921, Rodchenko worked in the Department of Visual Arts of the People’s Commissariat of Education. During that time, he created the first series of his works exploring the interaction of lines and planes. In 1921 he participated in the famous exhibition “5 x 5 = 25” with his triptych of monochromatic canvases: red, yellow, and blue. In the same year he replaced Wassily Kandinsky as the head of the Institute for Artistic Culture. In 1920–1921 Rodchenko, Stepanova, and Aleksei Gan formed the First Working Group of Constructivists. In 1922 Rodchenko tried his hand at font and graphic design. One of his first big orders was from Rezinotrest, for whom he designed the famous poster “Pacifiers” with a slogan by Vladimir Mayakovsky. In 1923 Rodchenko and Stepanova joined the literary and artistic LEF group, and in 1924 Rodchenko turned to photography. Later, he did a great deal of work for cinema, designed furniture, costumes, and stage designs for movies and theater, and made photographic reports from events. In 1941–1942 Rodchenko and Stepanova were evacuated to the Molotov district (presently the Perm region), where they worked for a propaganda poster workshop. After returning from evacuation, Rodchenko became the Senior Artist of the Center of Technology and created a series of monographic posters together with his wife. Alexander Rodchenko died in Moscow on December 3, 1956.
    • Varvara Fyodorovna Stepanova (1894–1958) was a Soviet artist, designer, and poet. She was born to the family of a public servant in Kovno (presently Kaunas, Lithuania). She attended the Kazan Art School but did not graduate. In 1913 she married Mikhail Fyodorov. They did not officially divorce until 1923, but she met her second husband Alexander Rodchenko in 1914 and moved with him to Moscow in 1916. Her daughter Varvara was born during her second marriage. At first Varvara Stepanova worked as an accountant and a secretary, while simultaneously studying in an art studio led by Konstantin Yuon. In 1921 she took part in the exhibition “5 x 5 = 25” together with Rodchenko. She worked in the Collegium for Visual Arts of the People’s Commissariat of Education, was a member and an academic secretary at the Institute for Artistic Culture, and taught at “Izo” studio at the N.K. Krupskaya Academy of Communist Education. She created book illustrations and theater stage designs, and she worked for the cinema and publishing houses. Together with her husband, she joined various art groups, including LEF and the First Working Group of Constructivists. Varvara Stepanova died in Moscow on May 20, 1958.
05 Июн - 29 Июл 2018
Белый пол