The Ultimate Palladianist, Outliving Revolution and the Stalin Period: Architect Ivan V. Zholtovsky

  • Adolf Max Vogt
Part of the Studies in Russia and East Europe book series (SREE)


The generally accepted view of the architectural development from the Russian Revolution (1917) until Stalin’s death (1953) is simple enough: first, a true revolution of the concepts of space, that is, a purity of ‘modernity’ that surpasses and outshines all Western endeavours of this kind (‘Bauhaus’, ‘neues bauen’, ‘CIAM’) and also quite often antecedes them chronologically; Then, a fatal twisting of the arguments under Stalin that results in a blown-up version of ‘Cake Decorators’ Baroque’. The watershed between these two contradictions is generally seen as occurring in the decisions at the Competition for the Palace of Soviets, which was drawn out over several phases from 1930 to 1935. Already in 1931–32, the jury of this international competition begins to give prizes to names which promise little, measured by the expectations of the European avantgarde. One of these names is Ivan Vladislavovich Zholtovsky, born 1867 (12 years before Stalin), who died in 1959 (six years after Stalin). In 1931–32 he receives a First Prize, next to the two additional First Prizes for the Russian Yofan and for the American Hamilton. In the third phase (1933–35), ‘the project of comrade Yofan’ is qualified ‘as the basis’, and as partners to Yofan are added the architects Shchuko and Gel’freich.1


Architectural Development European History Russian Revolution Proletarian Revolution Stalin Prize 
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  1. 1.
    Cf. Anatole Kopp: L’architecture de la Période Stalinienne (Grenoble, 1978) Chapter, ‘Concours du Palais des Soviets’.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Milan Kundera, Life is Elsewhere (New York, 1985) pp. 115–16.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cf. especially Selim O. Chan-Magomedow, Pioniere der sowjetischen Architektur (Dresden, 1983).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    The strikingly late bestowal of the Stalin Prize to Zholtovsky leads one to distrust the assertion that he has had a direct influence on Stalin’s architectural judgement. Anatole Kopp in L’Architecture de la Période Stalinienne (Grenoble, 1978), however, cites the architect Hans Blumenfeld, who worked in Moscow from 1930 on: ‘Joltovski a eu une grande influence sur Staline. C’est lui qui l’a initié à l’architecture’ (p. 404). Is there a legend in the making here?Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    The later summary and elaboration of this theory was achieved by Sigfried Giedion in Space, Time and Architecture (Cambridge, Mass., 1943).Google Scholar
  6. 15.
    Cf. Vogt, op. cit., Chapter 16, Die Strelka in Petersburg’, pp. 130–2; also W. Pekut, Das Ende der Zuversicht. Architektur in diesem Jahrhundert (Berlin, 1983) pp. 150–1.Google Scholar

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© School of Slavonic and East European Studies 1990

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  • Adolf Max Vogt

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