Alexander Rodchenko Popova's Studio 1924 geometric structure suspended from a ceiling

Alexander Rodchenko
Popova’s Studio 1924
Private collection © A Rodchenko & V Stepanova Archive / DACS 2009

Rodchenko made his first freestanding abstract sculptures in 1918, and later suggested that these geometric constructions, made using everyday materials, ‘signified the abandonment of painting for the move toward real space’. While Tatlin’s Counter-Reliefs were mounted on the wall, he noted, his own Spatial Constructions could be looked at from all sides. Their extravagant configuration of geometric forms in space would be echoed in his architectural designs.

With his hanging Spatial Constructions of 1920–1, Rodchenko gave his objects even greater autonomy, liberating them from the floor as well as the wall. Each one of the series was based on a different geometric solid, which Rodchenko modelled in a succession of two-dimensional shapes cut out of plywood, which opened out to define a three-dimensional form.

His architectural investigations with the Zhivskul’ptarkh group, in particular, seem to have been a direct inspiration for his 1921 standing constructions, in which regular wooden components are assembled in various ways to create a series of figures. These complex geometric forms provide a three-dimensional equivalent to his experiments with ruler and compass.

Popova’s Studies for a Construction in Space outline her move from the two-dimensional plane of her Space-force Constructions into the three dimensions of her production and theatre work.