At Tate Modern

Peter Campbell

Liubov Popova was only 35 when she died of scarlet fever in 1924. Osip Brik remembered her saying that ‘no single artistic success gave me such profound satisfaction as the sight of a peasant woman buying a piece of my fabric for a dress.’ Popova’s designs (mainly simple geometric patterns, but also a pretty one sprigged with a hammer and sickle motif, reproduced below) are among the mass of material – paintings, drawings, stage and costume designs, constructions, magazines, books, posters and advertisements – that fill the 12 rooms of Rodchenko & Popova: Defining Constructivism (at Tate Modern until 17 May). The material is lively, inventive and memorable, poignant even, because you know that early Russian modernism didn’t die a natural death but was cut down within a decade or so of its germination.

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[*] Tate, 192 pp., £24.99, January, 978 1 8543 7796 8.