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date: 26 November 2020

Nikolsky, Aleksandr (Sergeyevich)locked

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

Extract

(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....

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