Aleksandr Rodchenko
The Russian Avant-Garde
Experiment and Innovation
New Cultural Institutions
Spatial Constructions
The Death of Painting
Graphic Design
Portraits of Mayakovsky
Workers' Club 1925
Design for Theater and Film
Stalin's Power
red october cookies ad
state airline drobrolet poster
At the end of the civil war, in early 1921, the Bolsheviks found themselves in control of a thoroughly devastated country. To revive the economy, Lenin temporarily suspended the extreme measures of the civil war and instituted the New Economic Policy (NEP), which permitted limited capitalist competition until Stalin put an end to the policy in 1928. As elements of capitalism and socialism coexisted in the economy, Soviet society and culture experienced a period of relative openness and uncertainty, marked by both optimism and anxiety.

Although Rodchenko and other Constructivists aimed to collaborate with industry, their lack of practical training and the crippled state of Russian factories conspired largely to frustrate this goal. But Rodchenko was also eager to address a broad public through the mass media, and in the field of graphic design his work flourished.

Under NEP, government enterprises such as Dobrolet (the airline), GUM (the department store), and Mossel'prom (the grocery concern) were obliged to compete in the open market. Between 1923 and 1925, Rodchenko created more than 150 advertising and packaging designs for these and other state companies. He often worked in collaboration with the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, who wrote the slogans; they signed their work, "Mayakovsky-Rodchenko Advertising-Constructor." Conscious of the paradox of using capitalist-style advertising in the service of revolutionary goals, they created ads that promoted Communist ideology as well as state products.

© 1998 The Museum of Modern Art, New York