Go See – Thessaloniki, Greece: ‘RODCHENKO & POPOVA: DEFINING CONSTRUCTIVISM’ at The State Museum of Contemporary Art, through September 20, 2009

August 3rd, 2009

Liubov Popova’s magazine cover design for Questions of Stenography, at SMCA. Via The Guardian.

Greece’s State Museum of Contemporary Art (SMCA) is showing works by “two of the most important artists of the Russian avant-garde,” Aleksandr Rodchenko and Liubov Popova.  The 350 paintings, drawings, constructions, photographs, and essays featured in the exhibition are drawn 15 institutions from around the world, including 60 works which the SMCA donated from the collection of George Costakis.  Showing in the Moni Lazaraston exhibition hall, the exhibition travels to the State Museum from a successful run at London’s Tate Modern, which drew over 102,100 visitors.  After its close at the State Museum on September 20, “Defining Constructivism” will continue its tour of Europe with a move to Madrid’s Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, where it will remain through January 2010.

Related links:
Rodechenko & Popova: Defining Constructivism [SMCA]
Aleksandr Rodchenko on artnet
Liubov Popova on artnet

Aleksandr Rodchenko’s illustration for the Young Guard magazine (1924), at SMCA. Via studio international.

More images and story after the jump…

Part of Liubov Popova’s stage design for “Earth in Turmoil,” featured in SMCA’s current exhibition, “Rodchenko & Popova: Defining Constructivism. Image courtesy of the gallery.

C0-curated at SMCA by Angeliki Charistou and museum director Maria Tsantsanoglou, the exhibition follows the evolution of Constructivism as it emerged in mainstream art.  The Russian revolution ushered in a new period of experimentation in art, as technique responded to the shifts in Russian politics and society.  Artists explored collective working methods, and the interaction between art, a more traditionally segregated activity, and architecture, theatre and cinema, and industrial production. The artist became an engineer, operating along a set of rules that equalized its makers, most significantly in gender (as Communism did).  The inclusion of stage designs, magazine covers, and clothing patterns emphasize the direction of the show, as it approaches Constructivism (and two of its most influential Russian adherents) as a movement in both art as the final product and in everyday life.

Liubov Popova at her studio (1919). Image courtesy of the gallery.

Liubov Popova’s design for the cover of booklet “Russian Postal Telegraph Statistic” (1921), at SMCA. Via studio international.

Liubov Popova fabric design, at SMCA. Via The Guardian.

Liubov Popova, “Space Force Construction” (1920-21), at SMCA. Image courtesy of the gallery.

Liubov Popova’s design for “5 x 5 = 25″ catalogue cover, at SMCA. Via studio international.

Aleksandr Rodchenko’s “Abstraction (Rupture)” (1920), at SMCA. Image courtesy of the gallery.

Above and below, Liubov Popova dress designs, at SMCA. Via The Guardian.

Female artist Liubov Popova, born in 1889 near Moscow, furthered Constructivism in her own journey from Cubo-futurism to Suprematism to that final artistic movement which she engaged in until her death of scarlet fever in 1924.  SMCA presents 200 works by Popova, including canvases from her “Painterly Electronics” series (1917-1919), in which she began to transition from Suprematist to Constructivist technique.  Aleksandr Rodchenko, born in 1891 in St. Petersburg, enthusiastically experimented in the multiplicity of genre which Constructivism embraced.  After studying at the Kazan School of Art and the Stroganov Institute in Moscow, he worked to bring art into the everyday.  Rodchenko experimented in everything from advertising to cinema, even renouncing painting in 1921, to turn almost exclusively to photography until his death in 1956.  The exhibition features many of his costumes, stage designs, and film posters, including the one which he created for “Battleship Potemkin” (1925).  Of course, also showing are the works which the two artists created in collaboration with Aleksandra Ekster, Aleksandr Vesnin, and Varvara Stepanova for the 1921 show “5 x 5 = 25.”  These include Rodchenko’s famous monochromatic paintings “Pure Red Color,” “Pure Yellow Color,” and “Pure Blue Color.”

Rochenko wearing a uniform he designed (1924). Image courtesy of the gallery.

Aleksandr Rodchenko’s “Maquette for Advertisement For Rubber Trust,” at SMCA. Via The Guardian.

Aleksandr Rodchenko’s cover design for Marietta Shaginan’s “Novyi byt and Art” (1923), at SMCA. Via studio international.

Aleksandr Rodchenko’s “Construction No 108,” at SMCA. Via The Guardian.

Aleksandr Rodchekno’s “Construction No 126,” at SMCA. Via The Guardian.

Portrait of Liubov Popova by Aleksandr Rodchenko, at SMCA. Via The Guardian.

Portrait of Varvara Stepanova (with silk scarf motif adapted from Popova), by Aleksandr Rodchenko. At SMCA. Via The Guardian.

From “Rodchenko & Popova: Defining Constructivism,” currently showing at SMCA. Via Times Online.

- R. Fogel