Born in St Peterburg in 1891, Alexander Michailovich Rodchenko enrolled at the Kazan art school in 1911, where he studied under Feshin and Medvedev. While studying he also gave lessons in drawing and painted decoration for clubs. Moving to Moscow in 1914, he studied sculpture and architecture at the Stroganov art academy.
That year he was conscripted to serve as a medical orderly in the army. Two years later Rodchenko began to show work at Moscow exhibitions. After meeting Tatlin, he showed work at the latter's exhibition "Magazin". In 1917 Rodchenko joined forces with Tatlin, Jakulov et al to design the interior of the "Café Pittoresque". Between 1918 and 1922 he worked in various capacities for IZO, where he was in charge of the industrial arts subdivision and was chairman of the Acquisitions Committee for the "Museum of Painterly Culture".
During this period he did the series of paintings and prints called "Surface Dynamic", "Colour Concentration", "Lines", "Black-into-Black" and a triptych consisting in monochrome pictures, one each in red, yellow and blue.
From 1918 to 1926 he taught the theory of painting at the Moscow "Prolet Cult School". Between 1920 and 1930 Rodchenko was professor at WCHUTEMAS and WCHUTEIN, and from 1922 dean of the faculty for metalworking. During those years the artist was also a member of INCHUK.
With Kandinsky he founded "Museums for Painterly Culture" throughout the country. In 1920 he succeeded Kandinsky as president and head of the general work group for objective analysis at INCHUK. The following year he gave a lecture on "Line". In 1922 he participated in the "First Russian Art Exhibition". He also worked on various projects during those years and was active in typography for several publishers and journals, entertaining close links with the journals "LEF" and "NOVY LEF".
In 1925 he was commissioned to design the Soviet pavilion at the Paris "Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels". He designed a working men's club, which was exhibited there. From 1926 Rodchenko was involved with several projects in the Soviet film industry and attended photography courses at the Moscow Institute for the Graphic Arts. Between 1928 and 1930 the artist designed stage scenery and costumes for Moscow theatres.
Due to subversive activity he was relieved of his official positions in 1930. From then on Rodchenko was active mainly in photography, working as a photographic journalist for numerous publication. In 1930 he became a founder-member of the "October" group. In 1941 Rodchenko was evacuated to Perm and Otcher in the Molotov region but returned to Moscow at the close of 1942. There he continued his career as an artist until his death in 1956.