Following the revolution of 1917, Russia’s ambitious view of a new future gave way to bold plans for Moscow’s architecture. The city was reborn as the new capital of the USSR, and the international centre of socialism, and optimistic architects aimed to build a city that reflected its new cultural identity. Monuments, institutions, factories, theatres, housing and ministries were planned, all pretty pie-in-the-sky and largely unrealised, including Palace of the Soviets – planned to be the world’s tallest building – and Cloud Iron – a network of horizontal skyscrapers.
Now the Design Museum is marking the centenary of the Russian Revolution by dedicating an exhibition to six of these unbuilt architectural landmarks, designed in the 1920s and 30s. The show will display architectural plans, models and drawings of the buildings, alongside propaganda posters, textiles, porcelain and magazines from the time.
Shown exclusively here on It’s Nice That, the posters in particular give insight to the era’s daring phase of graphic design. Featuring artworks by artists such as Valentina Kulagina and Gustav Klutsis, they exemplify the birth of constructivism, with sharply angled typography, collaged photographs and illustrations with a looming perspective. They come from the Ne Boltai! collection, a vast archive of printed works by artists in the Soviet Union and its satellites, and give a glimpse to the context amid which the grandiose plans for Russia were being hatched.
“The Ne Boltai Collection forms an essential part of the exhibition,” explains curator Eszter Steierhoffer. “The posters and magazines of political propaganda, placed right next to the architectural projects, help to give a different, more nuanced perspective on the time period and its ideas to create a new society.”
Imagine Moscow: architecture, propaganda, revolution opens at the Design Museum, London, from 15 March – 4 June 2017.
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