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In 2020, just a year after the inspiring 2019 events around the Bauhaus centenary, we celebrate the founding of the Russian Art And Architecture School of Vkhutemas 100 years ago. Historical and ideological parallels between the two schools are evident. Find out more about Vkhutemas below. Follow us on Facebook and sign up for our Newsletter to receive updates and an invitation to the opening of our exhibition honoring the ‘Russian Bauhaus’.
Both schools, Vkhutemas in Russia and Bauhaus in Germany, were founded after war and turmoil (First World War and Russian Revolution) and dedicated their work to the creation of a better future. The “lifespan” of both institutes was short: Vkhutemas was closed after only 10 years of existence, while the Bauhaus school lasted for 14 years; dictatorial regimes were the reason for the closing of both schools. – In contrast to the Bauhaus in Germany, no successor with the name Vkhutemas can be found in today’s Russia.
Founded To Create A Better Future
During its existence, the Vkhutemas united the most creative contemporaries of the young Soviet Union; classical and modern art as well as architecture were taught with the aim of improving the living conditions of the masses. Ideological tensions emerged between adherents of the so-called “psychoanalytical” approach, which took into account psychological factors in art and architecture, and the “constructivist” approach, which reduced architecture to engineering.
Vkhutemas in Russian: ВХУТЕМАС Высшие художественно-технические мастерские (Wysschije Chudoschestwenno Technitscheskije Masterskije – in English: Higher Artistic and Technical Workshops)
100 years later, we stand amazed by the creativity, which found expression under the most difficult material conditions at this school. In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, creative pioneers approached their work with an admirable energy and positive attitude, in pursuit of the creation of a better future.
New, daring paths were explored in art as well as in architecture. While El Lissitzky, Malevitch, Rodchenko and Kandinsky later became famous also in the western world, the oeuvre of great architects such as Ginzburg, Mijelnikov, the Vjesnin brothers and Ladowski achieved less global recognition. In times of political isolation, their architectural work and buildings rarely got attention except from the local public – while works of art could easily be transported to be presented all over the world and reach a wider international audience.
Vkhutemas 100 Exhibition at Bauhaus Center Tel Aviv
The exhibition of the Bauhaus Center shows the organizational structure and the different educational strands which characterized the education at the Vkhutemas. Based on the example of the work of Moise Ginzburg, the architectural innovations conveyed are demonstrated: the flat roof, the ribbon window, the renunciation of decorations without functions, pilotis etc. In addition to these formal elements, the program also includes content-related innovations: communal kitchens, laundry rooms or common rooms appeared in residential buildings; and workers’ clubs were planned as part of the cultural renewal.
Using the revolutionary Narkomfin complex (1928-30) as a case study, the exhibition illustrates the careful restoration and adaptation of the building to today’s requirements. Two biographies of female students of the Vkhutemas school are part of the display. The last part of our documentary exhibition sheds light on the international reputation of the Vkhutemas.
More details: Bauhaus Center Vkhutemas 100 exhibition >>
Watch: Vkhutemas Lectures By Anna Bokov
To learn more about Vkhutemas we also recommend to watch the interesting lectures by our collaborator Anna Bokov available on Youtube.