Friday, April 8, 2011

Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed

Nice twist on CCCP.  Taschen seems to have outdone themselves again with this photographic tour of some of the more Brutalist examples of Soviet architecture over the years.  The heydey of these monumental structures was in the 1960s, as Stalin was no fan of modern architecture.  He preferred neo-classical buildings encrusted with Soviet symbolism, as exemplified in his choice for the Palace of the Soviets.  Fortunately, it never was built, but he left a gaping hole in Moscow after tearing down the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour to make room for it.  Nevertheless, he massively reshaped Moscow in the 1930s as shown in this film clip from Novaya Moskva.

Eventually, new ideas would come. The pioneering ideas of El Lissitzky and other modern designers from the 1920s didn't go to waste.  But, by the 1950s these ideas had been massively reformed, as it was no longer so much about the proletariat as it was about making a monument to Socialism.  Krushchev even imagined building a new Palace for the Soviets but settled for a huge swimming pool instead.  Ryszard Kapuściński has a wonderful chapter in Imperium on the fate of the Palace. 

Ironically, a replica of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was built after the fall of the Soviet Union. The new cathedral was finished in 2000 and towers to the former height of that commissioned by Tsar Alexander I in 1812, after the defeat of Napoleon.

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