Tatlin’s Soviet and London’s Olympic towers

This video says about itself:

Using computer graphics, archive footage and locations in Moscow, this film illustrates Tatlin‘s contribution to world architecture and how his tower may have looked in Moscow had it been built after the revolution.

By Virginia Smith:

Tower for 2012 Olympics reprises Monument to the Third International

A comment on Tatlin in London today

26 May 2010

The announcement and photograph of the tower design for London’s 2012 Summer Olympics are mysteriously evocative. This slanting, twisting steel structure, designed by sculptor Anish Kapoor (born 1954), reprises the ghostly memory of the Monument to the Third International, an unbuilt 1920 project of Vladimir Tatlin.

Here capitalism calls on communism, and the Soviet Revolution is resurrected by a billionaire. The 377-foot red spiral, called Orbit, is funded primarily by ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, employing 300,000 workers globally. Lakshmi Mittal is its head; he is the world’s eighth richest man.

The Monument to the III International was a major work by the Ukrainian-born, Soviet artist Vladimir Tatlin, one of the founders of an early Modernist movement known as Constructivism. Tatlin was one of the avant-garde abstract artists—Malevich, Rodchenko, El Lissitzky and Goncharova were contemporaries—involved in “leftist” political groups in Russia before the 1917 Revolution, who received commissions and positions after it from supportive officials. Their early abstract line drawings and paintings materialized later into three-dimensional projects for radio stations, newsstands, and spiky monuments like Tatlin’s tower.

Tatlin’s Monument was commissioned in 1919 to be an administrative and propaganda center for the Communist Third International, for a site in either Moscow or Petrograd. With a strong diagonal movement overall, it consisted of a central axis united with a iron framework of two spirals, enclosing and supporting glass-gridded structures in the shapes of cylinder, cone, and cube. In these spaces party members would hold meetings to accomplish world revolution, the tower to exemplify in its very form the strength, dynamic energy, and openness of Communism.

Kapoor’s London tower, called Orbit, seen only in a computer generated image, employs metal strips painted red, spiraling upward, enclosing public observation decks. It will cost about $24 million. ArcelorMittal will supply the lattice-like steel strips.

An interview with Richard Pare, photographer and expert on Soviet Modernist architecture: here.

An exhibition of Russian and Soviet modernism makes its way across Europe: here.

4 thoughts on “Tatlin’s Soviet and London’s Olympic towers

  1. Pingback: Soviet art and architecture, London exhibition | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Russian painting, 100 years ago | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Diaghilev, dancing, other arts, politics | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Printmaking and newspapers, New York exhibition | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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