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Latvian, 20th century, male.

Born 25 June 1902, in Iucin or Vitebsk; died 4 March 1929, in Leningrad (now St Petersburg).

Painter, watercolourist, designer, architect.

Suprematism.

Unovis Group.

Ilya Chashnik spent his childhood in Vitebsk. From 1917-1919 he studied with Yuri (or Yehuda) Pen, then in ...

Article

Inkhuk  

John E. Bowlt

[Institut Khudozhestvennoy Kultury; Rus.: ‘Institute of Artistic Culture’]

Soviet institute for research in the arts that flourished from 1920 to 1926. Inkhuk was a dominant force in the development of Soviet art, architecture and design in the 1920s. Founded in Moscow in May 1920, with affiliations in Petrograd (now St Petersburg) and Vitebsk, it attracted many members of the avant-garde, especially Lyubov’ Popova and Aleksandr Rodchenko; its key administrative positions were occupied by Vasily Kandinsky (Moscow), Vladimir Tatlin (Petrograd) and Kazimir Malevich (Vitebsk). At one time Inkhuk maintained contact with Berlin (through El Lissitzky and the journal Veshch’/Gegenstand/Objet), the Netherlands, Hungary and Japan, although it never really had the chance to develop these international connections. One of the principal aims of Inkhuk was to reduce the modern movements such as Suprematism and Tatlin’s concept of the ‘culture of materials’ (see Tatlin, Vladimir) to a scientifically based programme that could be used for educational and research purposes—a development analogous to the initial endeavours of the Russian Formalist school of literary criticism, which attempted to analyse literature in terms of formal structures. In its aspiration to elaborate a rational basis for artistic practice, Inkhuk encouraged discussions on specific issues of artistic content and form, such as the debate on ‘composition versus construction’ in ...

Article

Adam M. Thomas

(b Minden, Jan 15, 1902; d Austin, TX, Dec 8, 1985).

American painter of German birth. Kelpe moved to Hannover to study art and architecture in 1919. In the early 1920s he was exposed to the leading abstract trends in European modernism, including Suprematism and Constructivism. Kelpe developed an abstract painting vocabulary characterized by geometric order, hard edges, overlapping planes, and interpenetrating shapes before immigrating to the United States in 1925. He eventually settled in Chicago, where he had his first solo exhibition in 1932 at the Little Gallery. In the late 1920s Kelpe applied found objects to his paintings, as exemplified by Construction with Lock and Key (1927; Washington, DC, Hirshhorn). He abandoned such constructions by the early 1930s in favor of integrating in paint recognizable gears, wheels and machine parts into his abstract compositions. Machine Elements (1934; Newark, NJ, Mus.), with its stacked semi-abstract machine and factory forms, is representative of his work during the period. Kelpe worked for the Public Works of Art Project in ...

Article

John Milner

[Lisitsky, El’ ; Lisitsky, Lazar’ (Markovich )]

(b Pochinok, Smolensk province, Nov 23, 1890; d Moscow, Dec 30, 1941).

Russian draughtsman, architect, printmaker, painter, illustrator, designer, photographer, teacher, and theorist.

After attending school in Smolensk, he enrolled in 1909 at the Technische Hochschule, Darmstadt, to study architecture and engineering. He also travelled extensively in Europe, however, and he made a tour of Italy to study art and architecture. He frequently made drawings of the architectural monuments he encountered on his travels. These early graphic works were executed in a restrained, decorative style reminiscent of Russian Art Nouveau book illustration. His drawings of Vitebsk and Smolensk (1910; Eindhoven, Stedel. Van Abbemus.), for example, show a professional interest in recording specific architectural structures and motifs, but they are simultaneously decorative graphic works in their own right and highly suitable for publication. This innate awareness of the importance of controlling the design of the page was to remain a feature of Lissitzky’s work throughout radical stylistic transformations. He also recorded buildings in Ravenna, Venice, and elsewhere in Italy in ...

Article

Catherine Cooke

(Sergeyevich)

(b Saratov, April 1, 1884; d Leningrad (now St Petersburg), July 16, 1953).

Russian architect, teacher, draughtsman and printmaker. He entered the architecture faculty of the Institute of Civil Engineers, St Petersburg, in 1902, graduating in 1912, after student radicalism closed the Institute in 1905–7. His gold medal prize was a year’s travel in Italy, studying Byzantine architecture and mosaics under the guidance of his teacher Vasily Kosyakov (1862–1921), with whom he later collaborated on a number of churches. After the 1917 Revolution he was mainly employed in railway reconstruction, then urban planning and workers’ housing improvement. He also taught at the Institute of Civil Engineers, where he pioneered a freer, more exploratory architectural curriculum. While attending Ginkhuk (Rus.: State Institute of Artistic Culture), an affiliate of Inkhuk in Moscow, he met Malevich’s pupil, Lazar’ Khidekel (1904–86). The influence of Suprematism, particularly in his collaborations with Khidekel, is visible in many compositions of the 1920s.

During the 1920s and early 1930s, Nikolsky was the leading Modernist working in comparatively traditionalist Leningrad. His adherence to the ‘working method’ of the Constructivists was modified by a greater insistence on form as a legitimate generator of a building design in its own right. Where the Moscow Modernists were sharply split between Constructivist and Nikolay Ladovsky’s Rationalist approaches, Nikolsky’s approach, and the characteristic Leningrad attitude that owed much to him, were essentially a synthesis of these two....