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Behind the Iron Curtain - Confession of a Soviet Architect

07-11-2016 10:00 AM CET | Arts & Culture

Press release from: gisela graf communications

Behind the Iron Curtain - Confession of a Soviet Architect

The Soviet Union is history, its architecture still an underrated and unexplored era on the international scene. Felix Novikov, one of the last surviving Soviet architects and thus an important contemporary witness, speaks in Behind the Iron Curtain. Confession of a Soviet Architect. Born in 1927 and currently resident in the USA, the architect and publicist exerted a decisive influence on Soviet architecture following the Second World War with his construction work and theoretical engagement. He even coined the now familiar term “Soviet Modernism” in his theoretical writings on architecture.

In this volume from the Basics series by DOM publishers, Novikov recounts the dramatic historical events related to architecture that unfolded behind the Iron Curtain between Stalin and glasnost. When the young architect began his career Soviet architecture had already undergone three volte-faces within a short space of time: from Constructivism and Stalinist Socialist Realism to the more prolonged Soviet Modernism (1955–1985) following the legendary speech by Khrushchev in December 1954. Novikov – among whose masterpieces are the Pioneers' Palace in Moscow (1962) and the Centre for Microelectronics in Zelenograd near Moscow (1969) – became a prominent representative of this phase of pragmatism and opening up vis-à-vis his Western counterparts in Modernism, such as Le Corbusier, Wright, Mies, Aalto and Louis Kahn.

The architect portrays the conditions he worked under and how he collaborated with the government and other participants during the creative process. He further explains how Soviet design and planning institutes – such as the Union of Architects of the USSR – are organised and describes the circumstances that influenced the creative ideals of his generation and their daily working lives. This in turn is complemented by selected theoretical writings and a presentation of his most significant works.

These “confessions” go beyond those of an architect. The reader is presented with a vivid account by an attentive contemporary witness and active participant in shaping major architectural events. Therefore, it is a valuable historical document in that it affords a glimpse behind the Iron Curtain and thus cannot possibly be revised by historians. It is written for all those interested in the architecture of a vast country which no longer exists on the world map. Included is a foreword by Vladimir Belogolovsky, who has also written the monograph Felix Novikov. Architect of the Soviet Modernism (Basics series, volume 21, 2013).

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