• Aleksandr Rodchenko: Photography in the Time of Stalin
    Aglaya K. Glebova
    Yale University Press, 2023
    Aglaya K. Glebova

Aleksandr Rodchenko, “Cover for ‘USSR in Construction’ journal,” December 1933. Courtesy Rodchenko and Stepanova Archive, Moscow

This monograph reexamines the alleged end of modernism in the 1930s Soviet Union through the photographic work of Aleksandr Rodchenko (1891–1956), a key figure in European interwar art. Although best-known for his use of oblique angles and his championing of photography as a documentary medium, Rodchenko produced a dizzying variety of photographic works during the first decade of Stalinism. These included, for example, a found image archive, complex photomontages, painstakingly hand-colored prints, and detailed photo books. Based on extensive archival research, Aleksandr Rodchenko: Photography in the Time of Stalin reveals the emergence of a shadow oeuvre, a B-side, in Rodchenko’s photography in the late 1920s and 1930s—a body of work that existed alongside (and was sometimes embedded within) images that propagandized the brutal re-forging of nature and people. This shadow oeuvre reveals a search for less categorical and less axiomatic aesthetic and political forms in order to accommodate contemplation, suspension, and divagation.

Aglaya K. Glebova is associate professor in the History of Art Department at the University of California, Berkeley, where her research focuses on interwar modernisms and realisms, history and theory of photography, and art of global socialism. Glebova’s work has been supported by the Berlin Prize of the American Academy in Berlin, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, and the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), among others. Before coming to Berkeley, she was faculty in the departments of Art History and Film & Media Studies, as well as the PhD program in Visual Studies, at the University of California, Irvine. Born in Moscow, Glebova received her bachelor’s in history of art and architecture from Middlebury College and her doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley.