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Article

Barshch, Mikhail  

Catherine Cooke

(Osipovich)

(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 ...

Article

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....

Article

Breuer, Marcel  

Anna Rowland

(Lajos)

(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 ...

Article

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....

Article

Ginzburg, Moisey  

Catherine Cooke

(Yakovlevich)

(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 ...

Article

Golosov, Il’ya  

A. V. Ikonnikov

(Aleksandrovich)

(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....

Article

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....

Article

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 ...

Article

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 (...

Article

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 ...

Article

Ladovsky, Nikolay  

Catherine Cooke

(Aleksandrovich)

(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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Martin, Sir (John) Leslie  

Michael Spens

(b Manchester, Aug 17, 1908; d July 28, 2000).

English architect, theorist and teacher. After graduating from the School of Architecture, University of Manchester, in 1930, he joined the teaching staff there until becoming Head of the School of Architecture, Hull, from 1934 to 1939.

In 1933 he set up in private practice, subsequently designing the nursery school (1937–8), Northwich, and the Morton House (1937–9), Brampton, which were tentative examples of Modern Movement architecture in England. In 1935 he married the architect Sadie Speight, who became a lifelong collaborator. In 1937 he was co-editor, with Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo, of Circle: International Survey of Constructive Art, which attempted to define common preoccupations of Constructivist painters, sculptors and architects on a European scale. In 1939 his work entered a new phase when he was engaged by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company, and from 1949 to 1956 he worked for the London County Council (LCC). With the LCC he led the design team working under ...

Article

Mayne, Thomas  

Benjamin Flowers

[Thom]

(b Waterbury, CT, Jan 19, 1944).

American architect and educator. Mayne trained at the University of Southern California (BA 1968) and Harvard (MArch 1978) and his work is influenced by the twin traditions of Russian Constructivism and Postmodern deconstruction. Many of his buildings grapple with both questions of form (in particular its relation to program) and the shifting nature of materials. He, along with Frank O(wen) Gehry, is among the best known of a generation of West Coast architects to emerge from the turbulent social and cultural milieu of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

As a young boy Mayne moved with his mother to Whittier, CA, where he was, by his own account, something of a loner and a misfit. Mayne matriculated at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, but soon transferred to the University of Southern California whose faculty at the time included Craig Ellwood, Gregory Ain and Ralph Knowles. After completing his bachelor of architecture in ...

Article

Shchuko, Vladimir  

A. V. Ikonnikov

(Alekseyevich)

(b Berlin, July 17, 1878; d Moscow, Jan 18, 1939).

Russian architect, graphic designer and stage designer. He studied (1896–1904) in the architectural faculty of the Academy of Arts, St Petersburg, under Leonty Benois, through whom he became acquainted with the World of Art circle. He also studied painting, graphic art and sculpture at the Academy, in the classes of Il’ya Repin, V. V. Mate (1856–1917) and Vladimir Beklemishev (1861–1920). For his diploma work he was awarded a gold medal, giving him the opportunity to travel to Italy, Greece and Turkey. After his return from a second visit to Italy, made in 1906, an exhibition of his architectural drawings and stage designs enjoyed great success (St Petersburg, Academy of Arts; 1907). In 1907 he made his début as a stage designer with a reconstruction of medieval scenery in morality plays for the Starinnyy Theatre of N. N. Yevreinov (1879–1953) in St Petersburg. In his first architectural works, for example the design of café interiors (...

Article

Strzemiński, Władysław  

Ewa Mikina

(b Minsk, Belorussia, Nov 21, 1893; d Łódź, Dec 26, 1952).

Polish painter, theoretician, typographer and draughtsman. On completion of his engineering studies at the Moscow Military Academy, he was drafted into the Tsarist army in 1914; seriously wounded, he subsequently began his artistic studies in the post-Revolutionary academies in Moscow, Vkhutemas and Inkhuk. In 1920–22 he was associated with Unovis, and during this period he was influenced by Suprematism, whose principles would in later years form the basis of his polemics. In 1921 he married the sculptor Katarzyna Kobro, and at the beginning of 1922 they both moved to Poland. He published his first articles on the Russian avant-garde in the Kraków periodical Zwrotnica in 1922. Strzemiński organized the Wystawa Nowej Sztuki (‘Exhibition of new art’) in Wilno (now Vilnius, Lithuania) in 1923, which acted as a manifesto of Polish Constructivism; he exhibited Suprematist architectural projects, Cubist paintings and Synthetic Compositions as well as Suprematist abstract works constructed from simple forms in contrasting colours. With Strzemiński’s help, in ...

Article

Syrkus  

Olgierd Czerner

Polish architects, writers and teachers. Szymon Syrkus (b Warsaw, 24 June 1893; d Warsaw, 8 June 1964) studied architecture in Vienna, Graz, Riga, Moscow (where he met left-wing Russian artists) and Warsaw between 1911 and 1922. In 1920–21 he was also studying painting and sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, where he joined the Formists and completed a series of woodcuts under their influence. Between 1922 and 1924 Szymon spent time in Berlin, Weimar and Paris, and he met members of the Bauhaus and De Stijl. He returned to Warsaw in December 1924, and the following year he designed a building (Warsaw, 18 Wolska Street) for the National Health Service, published his first article and became a member of the Block group. Together with Mieczysław Szczuka and Teresa Żarnower (1895–1950) he drew up theoretical designs for residential buildings, and these were exhibited in ...

Article

Taniguchi, Yoshirō  

Hajime Yatsuka

(b Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefect., July 24, 1904; d Tokyo, Feb 2, 1979).

Japanese architect and writer. He graduated from the architecture department of Tokyo Imperial University in 1928 and established his own office in Tokyo in 1930. He began his career as an avant-garde designer. His first work, the Hydraulics Laboratory (1932) at Tokyo Institute of Technology, was a radically functionalist building, regarded as one of the first Constructivist works in Japan. He also criticized Le Corbusier in 1930 for élitism and a lack of practical concern. However, the Hydraulics Laboratory and other modernist works of this period such as the Keio Kindergarten (1937), Tokyo, reveal a classical sense of order in their composition, and, during his visit to Germany in 1938, he was most impressed by the Neo-classical works of Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Heinrich Tessenow.

After his return to Japan, he adopted a style quite different from his earlier modernism: buildings designed for Keio University, Tokyo, after World War II, for example the Department of Medicine (...

Article

Vesnin family  

Christina Lodder

Russian family of architects and urban planners. The brothers Leonid Aleksandrovich Vesnin (b Nizhny Novgorod, 10 Dec 1880; d Moscow, 8 Oct 1933), Viktor Aleksandrovich Vesnin (b Yur’evets, 9 April 1882; d Moscow, 17 Sept 1950) and Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Vesnin (b Yur’evets, 16 May 1883; d Moscow, 7 Nov 1959) worked independently on occasion but are best known for their collaborative projects. After the Revolution of 1917 they had a central role in formulating and developing Constructivism, which became the dominant form of architectural Modernism in the USSR in the 1920s. Aleksandr Vesnin, the most active and innovative of the brothers, also had a significant early career as a painter and theatre designer.

The Vesnins received their secondary education at the Practical Academy of Commercial Sciences, Moscow, but while Leonid completed his architectural training at the Academy of Fine Arts in St Petersburg, Viktor and Aleksandr attended the Institute of Civil Engineering, St Petersburg, where emphasis was laid on the technical aspects of architecture. Their studies were interrupted due to the authorities closing the Institute, and they did not graduate until ...

Article

Vordemberge-Gildewart, Friedrich  

Dietrich Helms

(b Osnabrück, 1899; d Ulm, 1962).

Dutch painter of German birth. After serving a joinery apprenticeship he started to study interior design and architecture in 1919 at the Kunstgewerbeschule and Technische Hochschule in Hannover. From 1922 he assisted with architectural reliefs in the studio of his teacher Ludwig Vierthaler (b 1875), and in 1923–4 he produced radical picture-constructions, in which he included stereometric elements and the tools of the designer, as in Construction No. 8. He combined these applied parts of the picture with a flat-surfaced geometric painting. In his choice of colours he did not stick to any restrictive formula, and even his early works are rich in graduated colours.

Vordemberge-Gildewart quickly attracted critical attention, particularly after he took part in the first exhibition of the Kestner-Gesellschaft in Hannover (1924). Through Schwitters he met Arp and also Theo van Doesburg, who accepted Vordemberge-Gildewart into the De Stijl group. Van Doesburg found him a ready ally in the development of a dynamic variant of Neo-plasticism, which they called ‘...