Alexander Rodchenko, Leica Lover

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

9 thoughts on “Alexander Rodchenko, Leica Lover

    1. Dan Newell

      That would be the “Bang’n Bolshi” Yuri Semenov. He seemed a bit too bourgeois to me but certainly a master of the means of production.

      Reply
      1. Leicaphila Post author

        Mr. Semenov was a firm believer in the Marxist dialectical law of the interpenetration of opposites.

        Reply
        1. Dan Newell

          He stood resolutely erect against the Anticlimaxterists. A true fighter employing correct dialectical thinking, not some prophylactic effort bound to be aborted at a later date.
          Quite the snappy dresser as well.

          Reply
  1. Stephen J

    Sounds like a nice chap….

    Not only a sinecure with that nice Mr. Stalin’s government, but he cheats on his missis.

    A charmer.

    Reply
  2. eric de montigny

    Beside the womenly conquest my real phantasm is shooting with this camera bare back i mean with the bare essential.

    Reply
  3. Daniel Castelli

    Devushka s Leikoi – I know the photo as ‘Girl with a Leica.’
    I’ve seen the photo reproduced in books & magazines for years. It’s actually a fine photo; the photo really defined the ability of a photographer to work light & fast with a small camera. It was all new to them.
    But, this isn’t my point. Years ago I saw a print in MoMA as I wandered about. I was surprised to see what a low quality, crappy print. The reproductions added contrast, sharpened the image, etc. This was all pre-digital when it was a mechanical process. The image posted here is closer to the original print I saw.
    Find an original print from H C-B hanging in a museum or gallery. You be surprised of the faults & defects.
    For these ‘masters,’ defects are art, for me, it’s sloppy work.
    As for his sexual escapades, he was just doin’ his duty to the Motherland. Spreading the seeds of revolution. Someone had to do ‘it.’

    Reply

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