Sterling Cooper Draper Rodchenko

“In late June 1923, Vladimir Mayakovsky, the great revolutionary poet, and Alexander Rodchenko, the great Constructivist painter, photographer, and graphic designer, collaborated to start a two-man commercial design business,” explains Howard Garfinkel, who, with Larry Zeman, are the expert proprietors of Productive Arts: Russian/Soviet posters, publications, graphics in Bratenahl, Ohio. “The venture was formed when Mayakovsky received a commission to produce consumer advertising for the state department store, GUM. Commissions followed for advertising and packaging copy and designs, most notably from Mosselprom, a state distribution agency for agricultural products.”

Mayakovsky coined the jingle “Nigdye, kromye kak v Mosselpromye!” (“Nowhere Else but Mosselprom!”), which is still known by Russians today.

This famous collaboration of Soviet “mad men” resulted in Constructivism becoming a dominant visual reality in Moscow during the early years of the New Economic Policy (NEP), which lasted to the late 1920s. Seen here are the first appearances in print, mostly in Ogenok magazine, of these newsprint advertisements, all of which are available from Productive Arts.

And at the bottom of this page: “You can close the loop with Saks Fifth Avenue’s 2009 ad campaign by Shepard Fairey’s Studio Number One,” says Garfinkel, “using strong Constructivist graphics reminiscent of what Mayakovsky and Rodchenko did for Mosselprom 90 years earlier!”

Moscow Theater

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Print‘s August issue is devoted to trash. It includes a special section guest designed by Sulki & Min; a visual essay by Jillian Tamaki; a look into the garbage cans and recycling bins of 18 designers; and stories by Rick Poynor, Steven Heller, Debbie Millman, Fritz Swanson, Michèle Champagne, and more. Order your copy, or download a PDF version, at MyDesignShop.com.
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