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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Moscow; Private Collection United States of America

  • Exhibited

    London, Tate Modern, Rodchenko & Popova: Defining Constructivism, 12 February - 17 May 2009

  • Literature

    Exhibition Catalogue, Tate Modern, Rodchenko & Popova: Defining Constructivism, London, pl.140 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present work is a maquette for a cigarette box designed by Alexander Rodchenko in 1925. The box is an important example of from Rodchenko's formative years, when his style manifested itself in the incorporation of text within a Constructivist composition. The design for the cigarette box shows the versitility of the artist and his ability to grasp new ideas and media: from painting, photography, photomontage and collage to maquette. Rodchenko remembered with pride the collective energy and enthusiasm of this period: 'We were not chewing over nature again in our paintings, like a cow with its cud. We have created a new concept of beauty and we have expanded the confines of art. We have made posters written slogans and decorated squares and buildings. Even the typefaces, so precise and persuasive, were invented by us, and they are the ones that are still in use today... we made new objects whose utility no one questions any longer' (Iskusstvo, issue 11,1956 p.58).
    Rodchenko's sensitivity to the social and cultural changes during this time can be seen in his passion to design objects. Indeed his need to construct objects went hand in hand with his passion for Constructivism and its ideals. The boldness of colour and sharpness of line and text which the box displays is innate to Rodchenko's style. The precision and attention to detail seen even on the edges and on the underside of the box are also typical of his Constructivist aesthetic.
    "Rodchenko' was drawn to just this less developed area of the new artistic culture; an area of the new artistic culture; an area that was at the time, the least gratifying for an artist...There were not any artists and architects who were prepared to throw in their lot with a field that offered such limited practical potential. But any phase of application on a mass scale would have to be preceded by an experimental period of elaboration and preparation...Through his experiments in the field of painting, Rodchenko had turned his attention to three-dimensional constructions. He went on to apply the new forms that emerged from his realm of objects, making a concrete contribution to the formation of the new stylistic current."
    (S.O. Khan-Magomedov, Rodchenko: The Complete work, London, 1986, p. 169 & p.224)

16

Maquette for a box of Esmeralda cigarettes

1925
Gouache and paper collage on cardboard box.
9.6 x 12.7 x 2.3 cm (3 3/4 x 5 x 7/8 in).
Signed in Cyrillic and dated 'Rodchenko 1925' on the underside. Inscribed in Cyrillic 'Maquette project for a cigarette box by A. Rodchenko made in 1925' on the inside of the upper half of the box.

Estimate
£30,000 - 50,000 Ω

BRIC Theme Sale

23-24 April 2010
London