Aleksandr Rodchenko was born in late 1891 in St. Petersburg, Russia. In 1905, Rodchenko and his family moved to Kazan. It was at that time that Rodchenko made the decision to study art. He entered the Kazan School of Fine Arts in 1910 and graduated in 1914. In February of that year he attended lectures by several Russian Futurists, one of them being Vladimir Mayakovsky. He became a proponent of Futurism, (which at that time consisted of a wide range of avant-garde experimentation going on in Russia).
In 1915, nearly a year after WWI began in Russia, Rodchenko moved to Moscow and enrolled in the Graphic section of the Stroganov School of Applied Art. During his time there he was a part of many exhibitions including one for the magazine, The Store, which was organized by Vladimir Tatlin.
From 1917 to 1921 Rodchenko had his own exhibition entitled Exhibition of Works by Rodchenko (1910-1917) in Moscow, produced his first collages using found photography, and is a part of 16 art exhibitions. During this time he had abandoned the Futurist style for a completely abstract and highly geometric aesthetic.
In the early 1920s Rodchenko left painting behind, proclaiming it’s death in 1921 in the June issue of MoMA, and took up different types of art including photomontage (he was one of the first to experiment with it), furniture design, poster, book & typographic design, believing these forms of art to be more effective is communicating the messages of the soviet union. His work from this point on echoed what was going on in the Communist Regime during that time.
Within that year he became involved and was a huge leader in the Constructivist movement (whose followers favored strict geometric forms and crisp graphic design) in Russia. During the movement he formed the first working group of Constructivists. Rodchenko played a large part in the Constructivist movement, essentially making it what it was, just as it, in return, made Rodchenko who he was. The Constructivists were the first group of artists in a long time to consider themselves more important and useful to society as a whole.
In 1923 he started creating his own photography and received many graphic design commissions for book covers and posters. He became the principal designer for the magazine Lef, a publication for the Lef group, a group of avant-garde writers and intellects associated with poet, Vladimir Mayakovsky. Mayakovsky’s poem “Pro eto” was accompanied by photocollage illustrations done by Rodchenko. He was soon doing all of Mayakovsky’s book covers.
Rodchenko’s graphic design work achieved much of it’s clarity and directness from his utilization of letters of the alphabet and elements taken from photographs, staying in a flat dimension of space with a limited color palette of only black, red, white and greys.
Rodchenko continued to pull in commissions for photography and advertising throughout the rest of his life. He was a part of over 50 art exhibitions before his death in 1956 in Moscow.