Soviet optimism of the 1920s was also marked by uncertainty, and the oblique angles of Rodchenko's photographs can provoke anxiety as well as a sense of liberation. Stalin's consolidation of power at the end of the decade soon put an end to these ambiguities and to the relative openness of the NEP era. The Soviet Union was wracked by a cultural revolution, which discredited independent thought and laid the groundwork for a new Party bureaucracy loyal to Stalin.
In 1928, Rodchenko was accused in the press of plagiarizing his celebrated style of oblique angles from "imperialist" photographers in the West. He valiantly answered this first of many attacks, but he gradually attempted to adapt to the new political climate. He devoted more and more of his energy to propaganda photojournalism for such magazines as Daesh' (Give Your All), Tridtsat' Dnei (Thirty Days), and Radioslushatel' (Radio Listener). The photograph illustrated here is from a photo-story on a lumber mill in Vakhtan.
In 1929 Rodchenko joined October, a group whose announced aim was to bridge the gap between advanced art and the working class. But this was one of a series of retreats, each less secure than the last. In 1932 his photography was denounced as "bourgeois formalism" and he was expelled from October.