rodchenko, Shukhov transmission tower, 1919

The Shukhov Transmission Tower was a radio tower in Russia that Aleksandr Rodchenko photographed in 1919. This photo was taken during the period of Constructivism that Rodchenko helped to establish in the year of 1919. Constructivism was a period in art history that strived to rid of the autonomous art. It was also a futuristic movement to perceive art as more than just a painting, sculpture, or photo but as an extension of reality. Constructivists also wanted their image to be more than that of an artist, but of just a normal human with various talents and they just expressed it through their works of art. From this photographic work of art, Rodchenko steps away from painting to capture this landmark of Russia and the angle at which the photo is taken adds to its amazing design. Rodchenko expressed photography through taking shots from many angles rather than regular ones. The tower, itself, relates to the geometric entities of Constructivism and has a definite relation to the reality that Constructivist pursued in their works.

During the age of Constructivism, geometry was used often to help with many real-life applications of the artist’s works of art. Some would use geometry to help a picture look more three-dimensional and seem to pop out at you from the picture. Others used geometry to show that they weren’t limited in their techniques and knew more about reality than just randomly creating paintings. The use of geometry brings along the idea of order and with order comes strength. The tower is made up of a specific geometry sequence, which allows it to have order. Relating works of art to the Russia lifestyle was made possible through the usage of geometry and many things in life are made from the idea of geometry. Looking closer to the tower, see it is made up of different sizes of triangles and circles. Some refer to triangles as the most stable shape of all geometric shapes. This derives from the fact that a triangle is fairly hard to topple on its base. A circle continuously rolls and a square/rectangle has proportionate weight and can be toppled to another side easily. Also, from the angle it’s noticeable that the entire tower is in the form of a triangular prism with a square base. Overall, the transmission tower is a geometric landscape and Rodchenko expresses his interest of reality rather than only the boundaries of painting and imagination.

The era of Constructivism greatly pushed towards being more realistic and meant more to the artist than just the work that they had produced. Bringing the realistic features from a work was something that the Constructivist felt was needed to continue prosperity of art. Since, this artwork is a photograph, Rodchenko brings out the still life of reality. Many in Russian know that the tower exists, but from this angle is, perhaps, a different story. The angle gives an indication as to how large and tall the transmission tower stands. The non-action background keeps the focus on the tower. The tower was a radio tower and one main source of helping communicating and translating with other countries.

Rodchenko usually took photos from various angles to give different visualization of ordinary things. Rodchenko’s angle, as stated before, shows the true size of the transmission tower. Rodchenko’s positioning makes this photograph unique, because anyone can take a picture of a site that important to a country. The positioning draws the tower out of the photo and places analyzers/critics near the base of the tower. Rodchenko is also close enough to examine the details of the tower looking up and through. From this angle, the surroundings of the tower scaling up the tower are identified. It seems that this is just an ordinary day in Russia from the looks of the background and the skyline features. The sky shows no movement and a sense of serenity and balance. With the balance of that in the background, the focus reverts back to the tower and its features.

            This movement towards photography was a major shift in the works of Rodchenko. He began to express the realities of the world more effectively and efficiently. The various angles that he took photographs gave a more in-depth siting of the scenery that would be unavailable from normal angles. Although, Rodchenko’s timing of photography is on the outskirts of the Constructivism movement, he still produces his works to live up to the Constructivists thoughts and commonalities.

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