Leonid Vesnin, Vladimir Shchuko, & Ludwig Hilberseimer Designs All in One Issue (1928), Full-Text PDF Download

The Vesnin Brother's Later Entry for Narkomtiazhprom (1934)

The following issue of Строительство Москвы is a classic.  Submissions for a design competition for a new textile workers’ factory were under discussion, with entries from Leonid Vesnin, Vladimir Shchuko, and Iakov Kornfel’d, among others.  A brief on Ludwig Hilberseimer’s Grosstadt Architectur, as well as his conception of a “vertical city,” are also included.

Download the full journal here:

Строительство Москвы – (1928) – № 7

6 thoughts on “Leonid Vesnin, Vladimir Shchuko, & Ludwig Hilberseimer Designs All in One Issue (1928), Full-Text PDF Download

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    • I would say that the vibrant art culture that existed post-revolution thrived up until the early 1930s. There were numerous avant-garde currents, which tended to be more internationalist and experimental. These were the Russian Futurists (very different from their Italian counterparts), painterly and architectural Suprematists, Productivists, Constructivism in art and architecture, Rationalism in architecture, etc. These groups invited modernists from other countries to join in the project of building a new society.

      At the same time, however, there was a more conservative brand of eclectic art and architecture inherited from the old academy system. These artists and architects were generally referred to as the academicians, and were generally despised by the avant-gardists.

      Alongside this, there was the Proletkult/proleterian art movement that Lenin and Trotskii were so uncomfortable with, that tended to be more realist and “heroic” in its representation of workers, Bolshevik leaders, and revolutionary battle scenes. This merged with elements of a strange brand of monumentalist avant-gardism that in architecture banded together in the group VOPRA, and this led to the Stalinist synthesis of Socialist realism.

      Around 1931-1933, Stalin and his henchmen intervened and wanted to put an end to the various competing groups and form an official style that would be run by forcibly unionizing the different art and architectural groups together. Once all the groups had been subsumed into All-Union appendages of the state, bureaucratized and monitored closely, the decision was made to institute Socialist realism.

      Socialist realism literally killed all the vibrant creative energies that had been unleashed after the Revolution, in the following ways:

      1. In literature, it meant that books predictably had to have some sort of conflicted petit-bourgeois or intellectual who was nostalgic for the old order and thus initially resisted socialism or collectivization. A protagonist, usually a virtuous, handsome young worker who was enthralled by the revolution, either helped lead his conflicted comrade to embrace the glorious new regime of Stalinist collectivization or was set up in contrast to the greedy, wily supporter of the old order as an example of the New Man — industrious, courageous, and heroic. Every book was supposed to have either a happy ending or an ending that taught a moral lesson.

      2. In the visual arts, it meant an end to the daring work of abstract painting and creative photomontage experimentation and a return to representational verisimilitude. It would characteristically paint noble portraits of wise Uncle Stalin, gazing out with a look of kindliness and resolve. It would portray scenes of Stakhanovite workers dutifully toiling away inside of the factory or happy, smiling peasants pleased with the joys of collectivization. Of course, it was all fantasy, but the figures portrayed in the paintings were made to look like real people.

      3. In architecture, perhaps the strangest blend was arrived at through the combination of monumentalist gigantism and neoclassical stylization — columns, arches, and decorative facades on an enormous scale. It resulted in what was later sometimes called the “Stalinist Gothic,” towering buildings that almost looked like gigantic wedding cakes set against gray skies. One of the final deathblows to modernism in Soviet architecture was the design chosen as the winner for the competition for the Palace of the Soviets in 1932. Google “Palace of the Soviets” and you’ll see the enormous wedding-cake building with a huge stature of Lenin on top.

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