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Barshch, Mikhail  

Catherine Cooke


(b Moscow, Jan 29, 1904; d Moscow, Nov 8, 1976).

Russian architect and teacher. He studied (1920–26) in the Vkhutemas, Moscow, and joined the Constructivist group OSA. His joint diploma project with M. I. Sinyavsky (1895–1979) for a vast administrative and market complex was formally and structurally bold, and its widespread publication brought him to public attention. Barshch’s first notable building was the Moscow Planetarium (1928; with Sinyavsky), the result of a competition. Conceived as an anti-religious ‘theatre of science’ in central Moscow, it established the architects in the canon of international Modernism. Thereafter Barshch worked in Moisey Ginzburg’s housing research team for the Construction Committee (Stroikom) of the Russian Republic. He also collaborated on an uncompromisingly bold communal housing complex for a thousand people (1929; with V. Vladimirov; 1898–1942) and a low-density design (1929) for the new city of Magnitogorsk, with the ‘disurbanist’ ideologue M. A. Okhitovich (1896–1937), which crowned an early career at the centre of the innovative avant-garde. In the 1930s Barshch worked under the classicist ...


Batbedat, Vincent  

French, 20th century, male.

Born 17 August 1932, in Poyanne (Landes).

Sculptor, draughtsman. Monuments, jewels.


Vincent Batbedat settled in Paris in 1950 and studied at the École Spéciale d'Architecture and then at the École des Beaux-Arts while attending the Académie Julian. In this period he concentrated on sculpture. In ...


Bill, Max  

Hans Frei

(b Winterthur, Dec 22, 1908; d Zurich, Dec 9, 1994).

Swiss architect, sculptor, painter, industrial designer, graphic designer and writer. He attended silversmithing classes at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich from 1924 to 1927. Then, inspired by the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (1925), Paris, by the works of Le Corbusier and by a competition entry (1927) for the Palace of the League of Nations, Geneva, by Hannes Meyer and Hans Wittwer (1894–1952), he decided to become an architect and enrolled in the Bauhaus, Dessau, in 1927. He studied there for two years as a pupil of Josef Albers, László Moholy-Nagy, Paul Klee and Vasily Kandinsky, mainly in the field of ‘free art’. In 1929 he returned to Zurich. After working on graphic designs for the few modern buildings being constructed, he built his first work, his own house and studio (1932–3) in Zurich-Höngg; although this adheres to the principles of the new architecture, it retains echoes of the traditional, for example in the gently sloping saddle roof....


Breuer, Marcel  

Anna Rowland


(b Pécs, May 21, 1902; d New York, July 1, 1981).

American furniture designer and architect of Hungarian birth. In 1920 he took up a scholarship at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna, but he left almost immediately to find a job in an architect’s office. A few weeks later he enrolled at the Bauhaus at Weimar on the recommendation of the Hungarian architect Fred Forbat (1897–1972). Breuer soon became an outstanding student in the carpentry workshop, which he led in its endeavours to find radically innovative forms for modern furniture. In practice, this meant rejecting traditional forms, which were considered symbolic of bourgeois life. The results of these experiments were initially as idiosyncratic as those of other workshops at Weimar, including the adoption of non-Western forms, for example the African chair (1921; see Rowland, 1990, p. 66) and an aggressively castellated style inspired by Constructivism.

Breuer was impressed by De Stijl, whose founder Theo van Doesburg made his presence felt in Weimar in ...


Chernikov, Iakov Georgievich  

Russian, 20th century, male.

Born 1889; died 1951.

Painter, draughtsman, graphic designer, architect.


Iakov Georgievich Chernikov was the pupil of a brother of Alexandre Benois at the academy in St Petersburg. He became a promoter of the Russian avant-garde.

His work can be placed between Suprematism and Constructivism. Above all a graphic designer, he had a remarkable capacity to conceive and design dreamlike machines and architecture. He published two works in ...


Clarebout, Pierre  

Belgian, 20th century, male.


The pupil of Marcel Baugniet, a Constructivist painter, Pierre Clarebout ordered his compositions in a much less severely architectural manner than his master, working equally well in pastel and gouache, oil and acrylic paint. His work, which is characterised by delicate chromaticism, is inspired by his interest in music and archaeology....


Doesburg, Theo van  

Allan Doig

(b Utrecht, Aug 30, 1883; d Davos, Switzerland, March 7, 1931).

Dutch painter, architect, designer and writer. He was officially registered as the son of Wilhelm Küpper and Henrietta Catharina Margadant, but he was so convinced that his mother’s second husband, Theodorus Doesburg, was his father that he took his name. Little is known of his early life, but he began painting naturalistic subjects c. 1899. In 1903 he began his military service, and around the same time he met his first wife, Agnita Feis, a Theosophist and poet. Between about 1908 and 1910, much influenced by the work of Honoré Daumier, he produced caricatures, some of which were later published in his first book De maskers af! (1916). Also during this period he painted some Impressionist-inspired landscapes and portraits in the manner of George Hendrik Breitner. Between 1914 and 1915 the influence of Kandinsky became clear in such drawings as Streetmusic I and Streetmusic II (The Hague, Rijksdienst Beeld. Kst) and other abstract works....


Dorazio, Piero  

Italian, 20th century, male.

Active in Todi.

Born 1927, in Rome.


Neo-Constructivism, Op Art.

Forma 1 Group.

Although Piero Dorazio first studied architecture at the Università degli Studi in Rome, he soon turned to painting. In 1947 he participated in writing the manifesto Forma I...


Faïf, Garry  

Georgian, 20th century, male.

Active in France from 1973, naturalised in 1979.

Born 12 June 1942, in Tbilisi.



Mir group.

Garry Faïf first trained at the institute of architecture in Moscow, where he was especially interested in Suprematism and Constructivism. In 1966-1967 he founded the kineticist-constructive Mir group with Koleitchouk and Rikounoff ('mir' means both 'peace' and 'world' in Russian). In 1973 he left the USSR for France, where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and then at the Unité Pédagogique d'Architecture in Vincennes. He undertook many architectural projects in Russia, France, Japan and Germany.

Faïf's assemblages (which can be dismantled) are negotiations of form that aspire to defy the laws of gravity, even though they obey a geometric spirit rather than the more ludic spirit of Calder's mobiles. The majority of the works are called The World, which clearly translates the artist's preached vocation of achieving universality. His overriding desire is that his works might access an autonomous life in the cosmos through the dynamism of the shapes he uses, and the way that light and colour play on the planes, tubes and cables. His work is an expression of Suprematism with its spatial, abstract, orthogonal, coloured constructions that look more like Constructivism, the definition of which is wider than that of Suprematism....


Forbat, Alfred  

Hungarian, 20th century, male.

Active in Germany from 1918, and in Sweden from 1938.

Born 1897; died 1972.



Alfred Forbat was mainly an architect. A student at the technical college in Munich, he worked in Walter Gropius' workshop at the Bauhaus between 1920...


Ginzburg, Moisey  

Catherine Cooke


(b Minsk, May 23, 1892; d Moscow, Jan 7, 1946).

Belarusian architect, urban planner, theorist and teacher. His age and background prepared him ideally for a central position among the architects who led the Modernist avant-garde in the USSR in the 1920s. He is best known for his leadership, with Aleksandr Vesnin, of the Constructivist architectural group from 1925 to 1931, but he was a consistently influential figure in Soviet architecture from the early 1920s until his premature death after World War II. Ginzburg insisted on constant re-evaluation and innovation in three key dimensions: architecture must tackle new social tasks; it must create new ‘spatial organisms’ to facilitate, reflect and catalyze those tasks; and it must harness the new technologies of mass production and the new building materials to achieve fulfilment of those tasks. A new ‘style’ would be the aesthetic correlate and result of these innovations.

The son of an architect in Minsk, with limited access as a Jew to higher education in Russia, Ginzburg attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the Ecole d’Architecture in Toulouse before joining the studio of ...


Golosov, Il’ya  

A. V. Ikonnikov


(b Moscow, July 31, 1883; d Moscow, Jan 29, 1945).

Russian architect, brother of Pantaleymon Golosov. He studied at the Stroganov School (1898–1907) and at the School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1907–12), both in Moscow. Between 1914 and 1917 he served in the army as an engineer. From 1918 to 1921 he worked with Ivan Zholtovsky, from whom he absorbed a feeling for architecture as a part of artistic culture. He sought to reflect the new within the bounds of neo-classicism, simplifying it and making it more monumental, and creating a symbolic language based on the interaction of geometric masses and form symbols. He elaborated his ideas in experimental and competition designs, such as the school in memory of Lev Tolstoy at Yasnaya Polyana (1919) and a crematorium in Moscow (1919). In such projects, neo-classical and Russian Cubo-Futurist devices were paradoxically combined, demonstrating his theory of objective norms in the construction of form, which connected the dynamics and statics of architectural masses with their harmonious interaction....


Gropius, Walter  

Gilbert Herbert

(Adolf Georg)

(b Berlin, May 18, 1883; d Boston, MA, July 5, 1969).

American architect, industrial designer and teacher of German birth. He was one of the most influential figures in the development of the Modern Movement, whose contribution lay as much in his work as theoretician and teacher as it did in his innovative architecture. The important buildings and projects in Gropius’s career—the early factories, the Bauhaus complex at Dessau (1925–6), the Totaltheater project for Berlin, the housing estates and prefabricated dwellings—were all more than immediate answers to specific problems. Rather, they were a series of researches in which he sought prototypical solutions that would offer universal applicability. They were also didactic in purpose—concrete demonstrations, manifestos, of his theories and beliefs. His theories sought to integrate the individual and society, art and industry, form and function and the part with the whole. He left Germany for England in 1934; three years later he emigrated to the USA, where he continued to teach, write and design for the rest of his life....


Jans, Jos  

Belgian, 20th century, male.

Born 1933, in Achel.

Painter, potter.

Neo-Constructivism, Conceptual Art.

Research Group.

Jos Jans was educated at the provincial institute of architecture and the applied arts in Hasselt. He was a founder member of the Research Group . Jans was awarded the Limbourg fine arts prize in ...


Kamekura, Yusaku  

Hiroshi Kashiwagi

(b Niigata, April 6, 1915; d 1997).

Japanese graphic designer. He studied principles of Constructivism at the Institute of New Architecture and Industrial Arts, Tokyo, a private institute established and run by Renshichiro Kawakita with the aim of introducing Bauhaus design theories in Japan; he graduated in 1935 and in 1938 joined the Nippon Kōbō design studio (now Publishing on Design Inc.). For over a decade from 1937 he worked as art director on a number of Japanese magazines, including Nippon and Commerce Japan. In 1951 he participated in the establishment of the Japan Advertising Arts Club, which secured social recognition for the profession of graphic designer. In 1955 he took part in the ‘Graphic ’55’ exhibition, together with Hiromu Hara, Paul Rand and others. Kamekura received an award from the Japan Advertising Arts Club in 1956 for a poster calling for peaceful use of atomic power. He co-founded the Nippon Design Centre (Tokyo) in 1960 with ...


Krejcar, Jaromír  

Vladimír Šlapeta

(b Hundsheim, Austria, July 25, 1895; d London, Oct 5, 1949).

Czech architect and teacher of Austrian birth. He studied architecture (1917–21) under Jan Kotěra at the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague. Together with Karel Teige, Krejcar was one of the main organizers of Devětsil, the group of avant-garde artists, architects and writers active in the 1920s and 1930s, and he edited Život II (‘Life II’, 1922), the publication in which the ideas of Purism and Constructivism were first introduced to Czechoslovakia. He was also a member of the Left Front, the Mánes Union of Artists and a delegate of the Czechoslovak branch of CIAM. Krejcar’s architectural work was based on a clearly defined Constructivist modular approach; for each building he found a formal expression in accordance with the relevant function, with all details fully worked out. The poetic purity of his work, inspired by modern industrial civilization and technology, is particularly apparent in two of his buildings: the Machnáč Sanatorium (...


Lachert and Szanajca  

Olgierd Czerner

Polish architectural partnership formed in 1926 by Bohdan Lachert (b Moscow, 13 June 1900; d Warsaw, 8 Jan 1987) and Józef Szanajca (b Lublin, 17 March 1902; d Płazów, 24 Sept 1939). Lachert studied in the Department of Architecture, Technical University of Warsaw (1919–26). Szanajca graduated from the same institution and worked there as assistant from 1929 until his death. They became friends in 1922 and prepared their first joint project in 1924; in 1926 they became members of the avant-garde Praesens group and were later in contact with CIAM. They were supporters of radical Functionalism and the introduction of new materials like glass and steel. At the same time they designed some small, standardized houses (1926) at Klementynów, near Warsaw, which were cubist in shape and constructed from a combination of prefabricated components and traditional timber. The partnership of Lachert and Szanajca was prolific; between ...


Ladovsky, Nikolay  

Catherine Cooke


(b Moscow, Jan 3, 1881; d Dec 7, 1941).

Russian theorist, architect, urban planner and teacher. His principal contribution to Soviet architecture was the creation of the theoretical basis of Rationalism, which (with Constructivism) formed one of the two main Modernist movements in early Soviet architecture and urbanism. As a leading figure in the creation and organization of the Basic Course at the Vkhutemas, Moscow, through which all new students passed, Ladovsky was a particularly influential figure in the Russian avant-garde during the 1920s.

After several years working in architectural offices, Ladovsky entered the College of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, Moscow, relatively late, in 1914, and he was already 36 when he graduated in 1917. In the first small exploratory groups and institutes that formed thereafter, he emerged as a leading innovator. The programme of the Zhivskul’ptarkh group (1919–20), which sought a new common ground between painting, sculpture and architecture, conformed precisely to his vision. Ladovsky’s projects with this group already demonstrate the secondary role given to construction, which remained a tenet of his more fully elaborated theory. In the ...


Lissitzky [Lissitsky], El  

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 ...


Lissitzky, Eliezer, Called El  

Russian, 20th century, male.

Born 1890 , in Polschinock, in the Smolensk region; died 1941 , in Schodnia, near Moscow.

Architect, painter, sculptor, draughtsman, graphic designer, typographer, poster artist, illustrator, lithographer, photomontage artist, photographer, writer, collage artist. Stage sets.

Constructivism, Suprematism.

Obshchestvo Khudoznikov 4 Iskusstva (Four Arts Society), Vkhutemas...