PRINT Summer 1979

Alexander Rodchenko: The Simple and the Commonplace

GIVEN THAT THE REAL POLYMATHS are few, it is surprising that Alexander Rodchenko has not posthumously reaped the harvest of fame—or even chic, since so many of his concerns are now in vogue. He was something of a modern Leonardo: if that seems too grand an elevation, his interests and achievements certainly raise him to the level of Ruskin or William Morris in the last century. Indeed, although Rodchenko was not principally known as a polemicist, the stance from which he articulated his socio-artistic theories gave him a position in the political setting of his day not dissimilar to that of Morris. Rodchenko was the radical par excellence. He committed himself to the left-wing avant-garde after the October Revolution, became secretary of the Moscow Artists’ Union, set up the handicrafts section of the Fine Arts Division of the People’s Commissariat for Education and participated in the

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