Room 2 Graphic works 1917–19

Aleksandr Rodchenko Design for a lamp for the Kafe Pittoresk, Moscow, 1917

Aleksandr Rodchenko
Design for a lamp for the Kafe Pittoresk, Moscow 1917

Private collection © A. Rodchenko & V. Stepanova Archive / DACS 2009

Aleksandr Rodchenko Design for an aircraft hangar 1917

Aleksandr Rodchenko
Design for an aircraft hangar 1917

The Pushkin State Museum Fine Arts Moscow. Department of Private Collections
© A Rodchenko & V Stepanova Archive / DACS 2009

Dating from the very early years of the Revolution, this selection of works on paper shows how rapidly Rodchenko and Popova started thinking about new roles for art, belying the widespread assumption that the turn towards architecture and design did not take place until the early 1920s.

Even in 1917, Popova was making abstract collages as embroidery designs for ‘Verbovka’, an artisan cooperative in Ukraine where avant-garde art was combined with traditional folk and handicraft skills. her portfolio of six linocut prints was, similarly, intended to move away from the idea of the unique work of art. She was looking at ways of distributing her work more widely.

Rodchenko’s designs for an aircraft storehouse bring together Communist symbols with the abstract, geometric elements of non-objective art. he also worked on the designs for the Kafe Pittoresk in Moscow, a bohemian cabaret that was to be decorated with abstract sculptures and paintings. The sketches of lamps shown here are an example of applying the principles of early Constructivist sculpture to a wall-furnishing.