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Photo of the Week #167


Black and white photo of small architectural model made out of paper–depicting a single story building with a fenced wrap around porch in front.

Model from the Space course at VKhUTEMAS, Moscow, Russia, c.1922-23
Vintage gelatin silver print


November  11, 2021

The Russian Revolution of 1917 marked the end of centuries of Russian Imperial rule and ushered in a decade of experimentation in Russia. It was in this period of social revolution that VKhUTEMAS (Higher State Artistic Technical Studios) was founded in Moscow in 1920

All VKhUTEMAS students were required to take a preliminary course in Spatial Composition which tasked students with model making. Sometimes these models were entirely abstract, others—like the one seen here—were architecturally focused. Photography was not officially taught but photographs were regularly made to record the work.

While the VKhUTEMAS school was relatively short lived, it exerted an outsized influence. At the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris, The Soviet pavilion, designed by VKhUTEMAS instructor Konstantin Melnikov, won the Grand Prix. The student works also won multiple prizes. Anyone who attended the Exposition recognized that the Russian designs were a radical break from the luxuriously decorative work presented by other nations—bold gestures that would influence countless Modernist architects and designers. 

It's our pleasure to offer this unique piece from a pivotal era. Like the model it depicts, this modestly sized print (2 3/4 x 4 1/8") embodies big ideas.