Enjoy revolutionary art and design – at the Royal Academy

If you’re in London in the next couple of weeks, don’t miss Building the Revolution: Soviet Art and Architecture 1915-1935, at the Royal Academy.
It might sound more like an essay title, but it’s a fascinating exhibition in the top-floor Sackler Rooms at the gallery.


The exhibition concentrates on the Russian avant-garde architecture which was made during an intense period of construction and design between 1922-35, inspired by the Constructivist art which emerged in Russia from 1915 onwards. T
he exhibition mixes Constructivist paintings and drawings, with photographs from the era of buildings produced, and lots of information about the Soviet ideals of how they were being built for communal living. Shown alongside these are superb large colour photographs by Richard pare of the buildings now, some of them inhabited and not looking too bad, some lived in but with many changes and with bits fallen off, and a few just derelict.
Many of the buildings still going look fantastic, mixing different architectural styles, but overall with a wonderfully confident, classy and stylish look.
The garage with the huge tyre-shaped window (still used as a garage) stands out, and the huge semi-circular block of flats, the block with a retractable roof (except technology wasn’t up to it so it never did retract), and the enormous turbine hall where someone working there now is growing some veg seedlings on the windowledge.
The creation of Lenin’s tomb, or all three versions of it, is also documented in a room of its own.
As you approach the Royal Academy there’s a scale model of the iconic Tatlin’s Tower in the forecourt, and there’s a separate small exhibition about its designer, including a made up image of how it may have looked if it had been built, in a corridor on the way to the ground floor restaurant – don’t miss it.
The main exhibition is on show until January 22, and the Tatlin corridor until January 29.

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