Alexander Rodchenko: Modernity’s Prometheus Bound – Part I

Alexander Rodchenko:
Modernity’s Prometheus Bound
Part I
by
Brad Kronen

The Third Installment of Brad’s “A Series of Unfortunate Sagittarian Events”

 

For nearly the entire calendar year of 2019, the biggest planet in our Solar System, otherwise known as “The Great Benefic”, mighty Jupiter will be transiting through the sign it naturally rules over, that being sign of the Centaur, Sagittarius. To be expected with the planet of Luck and Fortune in its own sign that happens to be naturally lucky based on the influence of its planetary ruler, extra emphasis has been given as of late to such overtly positive subjects as Blessings and Abundance along with activities that are as unlikely of actually occurring as they are beneficial such as winning the lottery.

As a way of providing some semblance of cosmic balance during this concentrated Jupiterian time, your author thought it wouldn’t be such a bad thing to present Jupiterian blessings and abundance from a perspective that is seldom if ever looked at – the negative spectrum.
In this series of books, “A Series of Unfortunate Sagittarian Events” astrological analysis is given to the stories of three famous Sagittarians from the diverse worlds of science, art, and politics who experienced tragic endings which unto themselves resulted from the cause and effect repercussions of their own actions.  In reviewing how these Sagittarians came to such unfortunate ends, the Great Benefic’s “good stuff” is given balanced juxtaposition by showing that even among Jupiter’s own there are those who brought about their own ruin by either taking their good fortunes for granted or because they were unwilling to face the realization that Life is not made up solely of just pleasure and pleasantries along with situations don’t always automatically “work out”, especially risk filled ones where no prior preparation or planning is given.

 

One could reasonably say two of these notorious Sagittarians, namely Fritz Haber whose life is discussed in Part I of this series along with the artistic great, Alexander Rodchenko, the focus of this installment, both ended up dying of a broken heart due to being rejected by their chosen “cause” which served both men as the source of their projected passions and ground breaking work.

 

Of the three Sagittarians overall, John Kennedy Junior’s tale is by far the most tragic since not only did his Sagittarian presumptuousness and careless actions result in the political hopeful’s own untimely demise but the lives of two other vibrant young people of vast potential were snuffed out as well.  The deaths of all three brought about by the reckless behavior of one Sagittarian, which painful truth be told, were irretrievable losses that were COMPLETELY AVOIDABLE.
It is by appreciating the good things in our lives along with realizing it is the combination of said goodness along with Life’s hardships and difficulties that our souls are given the best opportunities to optimally experience growth of both a spiritual and evolutionary nature.

 

The second installment of this series focuses on the life of a man who could arguably be called the most versatile artist of all time – Alexander Rodchenko.
Born at the end of Russia’s imperialist era, Rodchenko was a student fresh out of Art School when the Bolshevik Revolution took place in Moscow in 1917.  A fervent Communist, he rose the ranks within the newly established Soviet government eventually becoming the Head of their Museum Ministry.  While still in its infancy, the post-Revolutionary government sponsored and supported art work that was reflective of its Socialist ideals ushering in the short-lived artistic movement known as the “Russian Avant-Garde” with Alexander Rodchenko being its highly celebrated and most prolific of artists.  Fueled by an idealistic vision of a glorious Communist future, Rodchenko created works of art that not only were decades ahead of their time, they were made within nearly every possible medium of artistic expression.

Tragically, this multi-talented Sagittarian who single-handedly originated the art forms of both graphic design and commercial art was squelched by another Sagittarian who had a very different vision of his own regarding the future of Mother Russia named Joseph Stalin.

 

 

Alexander Rodchenko Caricature by Georgy Petrusov 1933
“Caricature of Alexander Rodchenko” by Georgy Petronov, 1933

 

Prometheus: “At first senseless as beasts I gave Men sense,
Possessed them of mind.
I speak not in contempt of Man;
I do but tell of good gifts I conferred.”

– Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound, 457 B.C.

 

In astrology the two signs that subscribe the most to the concept of the “Future” are the last of the Air signs, Aquarius and the final representative of the Fire signs, Sagittarius. With the element of Air being of a cerebral essence, anything Aquarian has a Futuristic edge given the natural inclination for that sign to come up with thoughts and ideas that are unconventional which break from anything perceived to be traditional or the norm. Added to that proclivity is the Aquarian capability to envision things as never before experienced, thus a goodly number of History’s greatest inventors have been born beneath the sign of the Water Bearer.

 

Aside from the fear factor of de-humanization which has germinated since the Industrial Revolution, when one was asked about the future in times past, a goodly portion of people unequivocally pictured themselves in a world that was automatically better and much improved than the environment in which they currently resided.  Here we see the influence of the sign of Sagittarius.  Being ruled by Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System, Sagittarian energy sees the world from an optimistic perspective that works on an upward scale, where the passage of time brings overall improvement and expansively so, positively affecting all parties within that futuristic place and time.

 

Pinpointing specific places and times from the Past, if there is a period of history that fascinates those in the Art World most it is those few short years in Russia immediately following the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 until the Soviet government under the rulership of despot Joseph Stalin took control over nearly every aspect of Russian life for its citizens, including any/all expressions of art in 1932. A period of just 15 years which brought forth a unique group of modern artists known as the “Russian Avante-Garde” that unto itself spawned the inherently Russian artistic movements of Constructivism, Suprematism, and of course, Futurism.
The central protagonist behind this modernist movement of Futuristic expression is an artist your author holds in the highest regard.  A man whose artistic creations were decades ahead of their time and who worked in such a vast array of artistic mediums, his versatility was unmatched. Many in the West may be unfamiliar with this artist, yet he was the pioneer of many of the artistic techniques used throughout much of the Art and advertising worlds of today – Alexander Rodchenko.

 

Modernity’s Prometheus Bound


Although its author and year of creation is still debated among historical scholars, it’s generally believed the Greek playwright Aeschylus wrote his lyrical tragedy entitled “Prometheus Bound” in the year 457 B.C.  In many ways, the traits and background of the play’s title character can be likened to the role Alexander Rodchenko played within the Russian Avant-Garde.

 

The ancient theatrical piece opens as the Titan Prometheus is about to begin his eternal punishment as decreed by the King of the Gods, Zeus.  He is tied and chained to a large rock on a high cliff where he is open prey to a wild creature that is also Zeus’ animal representative – an eagle.  The bird repeatedly flies down and pecks at Prometheus’ exposed skin as the Titan lies helpless and vulnerable, his chains preventing him from movement or escape.  Once the creature has created a large enough wound, the eagle then takes its talons and claws apart Prometheus’ liver before flying off the cliff’s precipice.  Prometheus lies in pain filled agony only to have his liver regenerate anew as his open wound closes in preparation for the eagle’s next torturous visit.

 

The audience is at first led to believe Prometheus is being punished for a single transgression – the Titan gave Mankind the gift of Fire.  But as the play progresses Prometheus explains Fire wasn’t the only blessing he placed upon the race of beings whose existence the King of Gods intended to destroy.  The Titan tells the Greek Chorus that along with Fire he has also bestowed upon humanity medicine to stave off disease, architecture to provide them shelter, along with the noble arts of Poetry, Music, and the ability to read and write the spoken word as well.

 

Prometheus admits with lamentable regret that he is indeed guilty for rewarding humanity with far too much given Mankind’s survival on Earth is now assured with all he has provided them.

 

Prometheus as the Aquarian & Sagittarian Archetype

 

The great Jungian analyst and astrologer Liz Greene has stated that the third largest planet in the Solar System was incorrectly named.  Instead of the planetary ruler of the futuristic sign of Aquarius being named after the primitive Greek sky god, Ouranos or Uranus, Greene says a better fit of a planetary title would have rather been  “Prometheus” due to the Titan embodying the Aquarian traits of intellectual brilliance as well as  egalitarianism since his many bestowments are placed upon all of humanity at large.

 

The myth of Prometheus reflects not just the sign of Aquarius, symbolically the tale of the tortured Titan contains imagery that is thoroughly of a Sagittarian essence.

 

Prometheus gives the element of Fire – Sagittarius is the last of the Fire signs.

 

The Titan is punished by the King of the Gods whose Roman name is Jupiter – Sagittarius is ruled by the King of Planets known by the same name, Jupiter.

 

The eagle is the representative of both the King of Gods and the King of Planets.


The body part assigned to the sign of Sagittarius is the focal point of Prometheus’ torture – the liver.

 

Lastly, Prometheus is not the presenter of just one solitary gift to Mankind, he gives the human race a wide variety of blessings, and here is where the ancient Greek tale mirrors the creative influences of Sagittarian artist Alexander Rodchenko most.

 

Mutability in Hyper-Speed Motion

As previously stated the sign of Sagittarius is the last representative of the element of Fire and the essence of Fire is action or overall motion.  It is through the sign of the Centaur’s astrological quality of “Mutable” that clearly shows why the artistry of Alexander Rodchenko was truly like no other.
 

The Mutable signs of Gemini, Virgo, Pisces, and Sagittarius take place at the tail end of each of the Four Seasons just before a new Season begins.  Sagittarius occurs as the season of Autumn draws to a close right before the Winter Solstice takes place.  Because the Mutable signs occur during times of seasonal transition, those born beneath that astrological quality function best when they have access and exposure to the concepts of Variety and Change.  That, along with the Mutable signs are the true multi-taskers of the Zodiac where their energies are best utilized doing numerous activities all at once. 


Alexander Rodchenko was the quintessential Mutable signed artist.  Not only was the man an innovative pioneer of artistic styles and techniques that were never before tried, the number of mediums which the Sagittarian expressed himself creatively is nothing short of awe-rendering.

 

The Sagittarian created critically acclaimed work in each of the following art forms:

Painting, Photography, Architecture, Graphic Design, Furniture Design, Sculpture, Photo Collage and Montage, Fashion Design, & Theatrical Costume Design, Commercial Art

 

One would be hard pressed to find another individual throughout the History of Art who not only worked with such a wide variety of artistic mediums but was so prolific within each field of creative self-expression.  Rodchenko’s masterful versatility as a working artist is unmatched and still serves as a source of creative inspiration right through to the present day.

 

Alexander Rodchenko Books in all Branches of Knowledge 1924

Alexander Rodchenko Franz Ferdinand

 

Rodchenko was a pioneer in the art form of graphic design.  Applying his Uranian influenced egalitarian artistry to the realm of advertising, one of his most well-known works is an add he created in 1924 for a publishing company simply titled “Books” . The add shows a peasant woman exclaiming aloud “Books in All Branches of Knowledge!”. Eighty-one years later in 2005 Rodchenko’s imagery was once again used as a selling point, this time for the Scottish inde rock band Franz Ferdinand for the cover of their album, “You Could Have It So Much Better”. 

 

 

In Part II of this series Rodchenko’s art along with his natal chart are analyzed in detail as they both relate to the shortly lived modernist movement in which he established himself as one of its foundational artists – the “Russian Avant-Garde”.

 

 

*Brad Kronen has written a book series which focuses on the life of Alexander Rodchenko as well as fellow Sagittarians Fritz Haber and John Kennedy, Jr. entitled “A Series of Unfortunate Sagittarian Events”.  Part I can be purchased at the link below:

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