From early vanguard constructivist works by famous artists like Alexander Rodchenko and El Lissitzky, to the modernist images of Arkady Shaikhet and Max Penson, Soviet photographers played a pivotal role in the history of photography. From the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution through the 1930s the early modernist photography influenced a new Soviet style while energizing and expanding the nature of the medium. Later photography, film, and poster art were harnessed to disseminate the Communist ideology. This exhibition at the Jewish Museum revisits the moments in history when artists acted as engines of social change and radical political engagement. It makes clear that the artists who comprised the group Oktober and the photojournalists associated with the Russian Association of Proletarian Photographers (ROPF) were influenced by avant-garde esthetics and by film in particular. Films by major directors of the era, including the Sergei Eisenstein film Battleship Potemkin, will be shown. In addition to a stunning collection of photographic and cinematic works, The Power of Pictures features a rich array of film posters and vintage books that employ radical graphic styles with extreme color, dynamic geometric designs, and innovative collages and photomontages. Also presented are examples of periodicals in which major photographic works were published.
(Picture: The Jewish Museum)