The photo above – Devushka s Leikoi – was taken by the constructivist painter/ designer and photographer Alexander Rodchenko with his Leica I. The image is of his assistant and lover Evgenlia Lemberg relaxing in Gorky Park circa 1934. Shortly thereafter Evgenlia was killed in a train accident – a trip that Rodchenko was supposed to take with her but postponed at the last minute. Rodchenko claimed he dreamt about Evgenlia for years after her death. Apparently, this didn’t stop him from also banging her younger sister Regina, who died of gangrene in 1938. That’s her, below, with her Leica. All of this happened while Rodchenko was “happily” married to artist Varvara Stepanova in 1922, with whom he would remain until his death in 1956.
Rodchenko reportedly purchased the first Leica in Russia and was so strongly associated with the camera that a chapter in his biography is titled simply “Leica Photography.”
As a key figure of the Russian modernist movement, Rodchenko helped redefine three key visual genres of modernism: photography, painting and graphic design. In the field of photography, he established unprecedented compositional paradigms, which in many ways still define the entire notion of modern photographic art. In his paintings, the artist further explored and expanded the essential vocabulary of an abstract composition. His series of purely abstract proto-monochrome paintings were influential to artists such as Ad Reinhardt and the Minimalists of the 1960s. Rodchenko’s involvement with the Bolshevik cause further propelled the appreciation of his art in the leftist circles of the American avant-garde.
Rodchenko Checking Out the Ladies with His Leica I
With Wife Varvara Stepanova