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Constructivism (architecture) Russian Architecture

The Hyperboloid lattice shell of Shukhov Tower in Moscow Noitrotsky Zuev
Lattice shells of the Shukhov Towers on the Oka River (near Nizhny Novgorod, Russia), 1929 KHARKOV Chekists_village
Melnikov   The Melnikov House, Konstantin Melnikov, Moscow, 1929
Moscow,_Narkomzem_by_Alexey_Shchusev photo-montage of Wolkenbugel El Lissitzky, 1925 Leningrad
Melnikov_Stairs_Svoboda_Club_Moscow. RKonstantin Melnikov (1890-1974),Rusakov Workers' Club (1927-1929) Moscow. Moscow_textile_institute
MPS_building_5_Novaya_Basmannaya Melnikov_garage_intourist palace of the press
The Tsentrosoyuz Building (Moscow, 1933) by Le Corbusier.    
First three were designed for Red Square:    
"Palace of Books" (for educational purposes) proposed for Pushkin Square: "Palace of Labor" designed for personnel training, management and development of labor techniques: Ministry of Railways (Tank Engine Building) was Fomin's experiment with constructivist architecture
Chernikov Chernikov Chernikov
     
Post Revolution (1917-1932) Constructivism

In the first year of Soviet Power, all of the architects who refused to emigrate as well as the new generation denounced any features of classical heritage in their works and started to propagate formalism. The most influential of all Revivalist themes. Giant plans were drawn for massive cities with technical advances. The most ambitious of all was Tower of the Third Internationale planned in 1919 by Vladimir Tatlin (1885-1953), а 400 meter spiral wound around a tilted central axis with rotating glass chambers. Impossible in real life, Tatlin Tower inspired a generation of Constructivist architects in Russia and abroad. Real Shukhov Tower, rising 160 meters above Moscow, was completed in 1922. According to the initial project, the Hyperboloid Tower by Vladimir Shukhov with the height of 350 meters had the estimated mass of only 2200 ton, while the Eifel Tower in Paris with the height of 350 meters weighs 7300 ton.

One of the most important priorities in post-revolutionary period was a mass reconstruction of cities. In 1918 Alexey Shchusev (1873-1949) and Ivan Zholtovsky founded the Mossovet Architectural Workshop, where the complex planning of Moscow's reconstruction as a new Soviet capital took place. The Workshop employed young architects that soon emerged as avant-garde leaders. At the same time, architectural education concentrated in VKhUTEMAS college, divided between revivalists and modernist.

In 1919 Petrograd saw a similar planning and educational setup headed by experienced revivalist Ivan Fomin (1872-1936). Other cities followed suit, and the results of the work carried out there were to make dramatic changes in tradition Russian city layout. The first large scale development templates generalny plan were drawn there. Effectively the whole city was planned as a series of new wide avenues, massive public structures, liquidation of worker quarters and turning them into proper housing with heating and sanitation. First apartment building of this period was completed in 1923, followed with a surge of public housing construction in 1925-1929.



It was in Petrograd that in 1917-19 the first example of the new style was erected on the Field of Mars consisting of a monument designed by Lev Rudnev (1886-1956) Strugglers of the Revolution. This complex consisted of a series of laconic and expressive granite monoliths, and became the focal point of further development in Soviet sculptural and memorial architecture.

However the most famous construction of this time was indeed Lenin's Mausoleum by Alexey Shchusev. Originally a temporary wooden structure stood, topped with a pyramid, with two attachments for entrance and departure. In 1930 it was replaced with the present building set in stone. The combination of dark red and black labradorite punctuated the slenderness and precision of the construction.


Iakov Chernikhov - Ukranian born Russian Constructivist architect & artist [1889-1951]

The massive development of technological processes and materials also influenced on the constuctivist elements in structure design. During the erection of the Volkhov Hydroelectric Station (1918-26, architects O.Munts and V.Pokrovsky), the traditional outlines on the window arches is still used (despite concrete being employed in construction). However the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station (1927-32) which was built by the collective of architects headed by Viktor Vesnin (1882-1950) took an innovative decision that had a curved dam with a rhythmic pattern of foundations. A large role in the architectural life of 1920s Russia was played by creative unions, one of which that was formed in 1923, was the Association of New Architects (Asnova), which put forward an idea of synthesisng architecture and other creative arts in the way that building gained an almost sculptural external impression, these were to serve as visual points for orientation of a human in space. Members of Asnova also developed the first designs of Moscow's skyscrapers, none of which were realised at the time (1923-1926).



Another new creation that came from post-revolutionary Russia was a new type of public buildings such as Worker's club or Palace of Culture. These became a new focus for architects, who used the visual expression of large elements blended with industrial motifs. The most famous of these was the Zuev Club (1927-29) in Moscow by Ilya Golosov (1883-1945), whose composition relied on the dynamical contrast of simple shapes, planes, complete walls and glazed surfaces.

The symbolical expression of construction became the showpiece in works designed by Konstantin Melnikov (1890-1974), notably Rusakov Workers' Club (1927-1929) in Moscow. Visually the building resembles resembles a part of a gear and each of the three cantilevered concrete "teeth" is a balcony of the main auditorium that could be used individually or combined into a large theater hall. The sharpness of the volumetric composition and the "transition" of internal space (often called by Melnikov himself as a "tensed muscle" made it one of the most important structures of Soviet Architecture.
Constructivism (art)
 

Tatlin Tower. Model of the Monument to the Third International

Constructivism was an artistic and architectural movement in Russia from 1914 onward (especially present after the October Revolution), and a term often used in modern art today, which dismissed "pure" art in favour of art used as an instrument for social purposes, namely, the construction of the socialist system. The term Construction Art was first used as a derisive term by Kazimir Malevich to describe the work of Alexander Rodchenko in 1917. Constructivism first appears as a positive term in Naum Gabo's Realistic Manifesto of 1920.

History
The movement was formed by Vladimir Tatlin, and later prominent constructivists included Manuel Rendón, Joaquín Torres García, Antoine Pevsner and Naum Gabo. The basis for the new movement was laid by People's Commissar of Education Anatoliy Vasilievich Lunacharsky with the suppression of the old Petrograd Academy of Fine Arts and the Moscow College of Painting in 1918. The focus for Constructivism in Moscow was VKhUTEMAS the school for art and design established in 1919. Gabo later stated that teaching at the school was focused more on political and ideological discussion than art making.

Kazimir Malevich also worked in the constructivist style, though he is better known for his earlier suprematism and ran his own competing group in Vitebsk. The movement was an important influence on new graphic design techniques championed by El Lissitzky.

As a part of the early Soviet youth movement, the constructivists took an artistic outlook aimed to encompass cognitive, material activity, and the whole of spirtuality of mankind. The artists tried to create art that would take the viewer out of the traditional setting and make them an active viewer of the artwork. Most of the designs were a fusion of art and political commitment, and reflected the revolutionary times.

The artists of the movement were influenced by, and used materials from, industrial design such as sheet metal and glass. Often these materials were used to create geometric objects.



The canonical work of Constructivism was Tatlin's proposal for the Monument to the Third International (1920) which combined a machine aesthetic with dynamic components celebrating technology such as searchlights and projection screens. Gabo publically criticized Tatlin's design saying Either create functional houses and bridges or create pure art, not both. This led to a major split in the Moscow group in 1920 when Gabo and Pevsner released the Realistic Manifesto that asserted a spiritual core for the movement. This was opposed to the utilitarian and adaptable version of Constructivism held by Tatlin and Rodchenko. The Constructivists main political patron was Leon Trotsky but after 1921 his support began to decline - the Communist Party could not afford to support a pure art movement, and as early as 1918 Pravda had complained that government funds were being used to buy works by untried artists. To distance themselves from Gabo, Tatlin and Rodchenko began to use the term Productivism.

In 1921, a New Economic Policy was set in place in the Soviet Union, and Rodchenko, Varvara Stepanova, and others made advertising for commercial enterprises. The poet-artist Vladimir Mayakovsky and Rodchenko worked together and called themselves "advertising constructors". Together they designed eye-catching images featuring bright colors, geometric shapes, and bold lettering. The lettering of most contructivist designs is intended to create a reaction, and function on emotional and substantive levels.

Legacy
A number of Constructivists would teach or lecture at the Bauhaus, and some of the VKhUTEMAS teaching methods were taken up and developed there. Gabo established a version of Constructivism in England in the 1930s and 1940s that was taken up by architects, designers and artists after World War II (see Victor Pasmore). Joaquin Torres Garcia and Manuel Rendón were monumental in spreading the Constructivist Movement throughout Europe and Latin America. The Constructivist Movement had a enormous impact on the modern masters of Latin America such as: Carlos Merida, Enrique Tábara, Theo Constanté, Oswaldo Viteri, Anibal Villacis, Estuardo Maldonado, and Carlos Catasse, just to name a few.

In the 1980s graphic designer Neville Brody used styles based on Constructivist posters that sparked a revival of popular interest.

Deconstructivist architecture by architects Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and others takes constructivism as a point of departure for works in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Zaha Hadid in her sketches and drawings of abstract triangles and rectangles evokes the aesthetic of constructivism. Though formally similar, the socialist political connotations of Russian constructivism are de emphasized in Hadid's deconstructivism. Rem Koolhaas' projects recall another aspect of constructivism. The scaffold and crane-like structures represented by many constructivist architects, return in the finished forms of his designs and buildings.


Artists Associated with Constructivism
Ella Bergmann-Michel - (1896-1971) 
Carlos Catasse - (1944-Present) 
Theo Constanté - (1934-Present) 
Naum Gabo - (1890-1977) 
Gustav Klutsis - (1895-1938) 
El Lissitzky - (1890-1941) 
Louis Lozowick 
Estuardo Maldonado - (1930-Present) 
Konstantin Melnikov - (1890-1974) 
László Moholy-Nagy - (1895-1946) 
Tomoyoshi Murayama - (1901-1977) 
Victor Pasmore - (1908-1998) 
Antoine Pevsner - (1886-1962) 
Lyubov Popova - (1889-1924) 
Manuel Rendón Seminario - (1894-1982) 
Aleksandr Rodchenko - (1891-1956) 
Oskar Schlemmer - (1888-1943) 
Varvara Stepanova - (1894-1958) 
Enrique Tábara - (1930-Present) 
Vladimir Tatlin - (1885-1953) 
Joaquin Torres Garcia - (1874-1949) 
Aníbal Villacís - (1927-Present) 
Oswaldo Viteri - (1931-Present) 

Resources
Russian Constructivist Posters, edited by Elena Barkhatova. ISBN 2080135279. 
Heller, Steven, and Seymour Chwast. Graphic Style from Victorian to Digital. New ed. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2001. 53-57. 
Lodder, Christina. Russian Constructivism. Yale University Press; Reprint edition. 1985. ISBN 0300034067 
Rickey, George. Constructivism: Origins and Evolution. George Braziller; Revised edition. 1995. ISBN 0807613819

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