Marianne Karabelnik, Stripped Bare: The Body Revealed in Contemporary Art: Works from the Thomas Koerfer Collection (London, 2004), p. 27
Other prints of this image:
Dajesh, No. 17, 1929, there titled The Summer Day
Magdalena Dabrowski, Leah Dickerman, and Peter Galassi, Aleksandr Rodchenko (Museum of Modern Art, 1998), pl. 247
Alexander Lavrentiev, Alexander Rodchenko, Photography 1924-1954 (Cologne, 1995), pp. 150-51
Andréi B. Nakov, Rodtchenko, Photographe (Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 1977), unpaginated
Alexandr Rodčenko, I Grandi Fotografi–serie argento (Milan, 1983), p. 36
Alexander Rodchenko (Pantheon, 1986), pl. 38
Soviet Photography: An Age of Realism (New York, 1980), p. 81
20 Soviet Photographers (Amsterdam, 1990), pl. 108
The photograph was an important one for Rodchenko from the time of its making: it was first published in 1929, in the magazine Dajesh, with the alternate title, The Summer Day. Rodchenko included it in his section of the lauded 1935 Exhibition of the Work of the Masters of Soviet Photography in Moscow. At the time, Rodchenko – like many of his fellow artists and writers – had begun to lose favor with Stalin’s increasingly authoritarian government, and this important exhibition afforded Rodchenko some much needed approbation. Since his death, Steps has been extensively reproduced and exhibited. Like the famous Odessa Steps passage in Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 film, Battleship Potemkin, Rodchenko’s image has become a touchstone for Russian visual art of the early 20th century.
This photograph shows the steps of Moscow’s 19th-century Orthodox Church of the Holy Savior. Like Rodchenko, the church was the victim of the Russian government’s rapidly shifting objectives. It was razed in the early 1930s to clear the way for construction of the Palace of the Soviets—a project that was never realized.
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