Alexander RodchenkoRussian (Saint Petersburg, Russia, 1891 - 1956, Moscow, Soviet Union [now Russia])
Pozharnaia lestnitsa, from the series Dom na Miasnitskoi (Fire Escape, from the series Building on Miasnitskaia Street)
A painter, graphic designer, writer, and photographer, Rodchenko was at the forefront of avant-garde artists in Russia who, following the Revolution of 1917, sought to make work that was socially useful. He first began working in photography in 1925 with a camera he had bought in Paris.
This early experimental work was shot outside his apartment building on Miasnitskaia Street, and it explores photographic themes and compositional strategies that would become increasingly important in his later work. Denying a glimpse of the subject's face as well as a stable sense of perspective, the picture disturbs the viewer's experience of both real and photographic space. The unusual point of view allows an otherwise ordinary scene to take on new resonance.
For Rodchenko, learning to see in new ways was integral to effecting social and political change. His angled perspectives challenged the work of many of his Western contemporaries, who believed in a more traditional approach to documentary photography.