Ann Zollinger and Margaret Crawford introduce Catherine Cooke. Cooke surveys the context of the early Soviet Union with regard to architectural design. She discusses constructivism, arguing for its relevance in the transition from the machine age to the information age. Cooke contrasts the constructivist focus on the material reality with the supremacists’s lack of concern for physical space or material. She reviews the work of Vladimir Tatlin and his influence on the constructivist scene. Cooke explains key terms and interests of the constructivists, including the tectonics and machine thinking.
Video Archive | Vladimir Tatlin (4)
Charles Jencks tracks the evolution of Russian constructivism as a way of bridging the gap between cubism, modernism, and the prevalent International Style. Jencks describes the 1905 and 1917 revolutions and how designers approached both. He cites Lenin and Marx on the role of government in
regulating style through the early half of the twentieth century. He breaks down the architectural evolution of the movement from before Tatlin’s Tower through its spread to other Communist countries like Poland and China, and finally, the eventual decline of the movement in favor of the International Style.
Charles Jencks emphasizes the role of women in the early constructivist movement, and the theatrical quality of the revolution. He introduces Tatlin’s Tower as a pivotal work of constructivism and how this propel’s the movement into alignment with the politics, intentions, and propaganda of the post-revolutionary Soviet Union. Jencks shows subsequent architectural developments and work in other media, such as, photography, theatre, film and engineering as a way of explaining the evolution of the ideas and themes behind the movement.
Charles Jencks wraps up his lecture on Russian constructivism by describing the ways Stalin projected the style to other countries outside the USSR, including Mao’s China, and Eastern Europe. He shows examples of the late evolution of the movement including civic architecture, infrastructure, and transportation. Lastly, Jencks describes how the International Style infects Russian architects and degrades the constructivist aesthetic.