The Oxford Biblical Studies Online and Oxford Islamic Studies Online have retired. Content you previously purchased on Oxford Biblical Studies Online or Oxford Islamic Studies Online has now moved to Oxford Reference, Oxford Handbooks Online, Oxford Scholarship Online, or What Everyone Needs to Know®. For information on how to continue to view articles visit the subscriber services page.

Related Content

More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Art & Architecture


Show Summary Details


Varvara Stepanova


Quick Reference


A leading Russian Constructivist artist, graphic, and costume and set designer Stepanova was best known for her textile and clothing designs and, like her husband Alexander Rodchenko and Vladimir Tatlin, became committed to utilitarian designs geared to social needs and economic mass production. After studying at the School of Fine Arts in Kazan from 1910 to 1911 she moved to Moscow where she studied at the Stroganoff School of Applied Art from 1913 to 1914. After working with avant‐garde abstract forms she was, from 1920, an active member of Inhuk (the Institute of Artistic Culture) which had been established in 1920. In the following year, with her husband Rodchenko and others, she became involved with Productivism—the mass‐production of industrial and applied art (See Constructivism). She designed utilitarian workers' clothing, strongly coloured, geometrically patterned sportswear, and theatre costumes and sets, such as that for The Death of Tarelkin produced by Meyerhold in Moscow in 1922. She also taught at the Moscow Vkhutemas and, in the mid‐1920s, produced many designs for mass‐produced cotton textiles often characterized by flat, coloured abstract patterns. In the same period she contributed to a number of avant‐garde periodicals such as LEF (1923–5) and Novy LEF (1927) and increasingly devoted her attention to book and periodical design, often in conjunction with her husband Rodchenko, with whom she collaborated closely on photographic albums in the 1930s. After the Second World War she worked on the periodical the Soviet Woman (1945–6).

Reference entries