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From Recognition to Rejection

Hannes Meyer and the Reception of the Bauhaus in the Soviet Union

Hannes Meyer, Béla Scheffler und Arkadij Mordvinov 1930–31 in Moskau,
from: A-Z-I, Vol. X, No. 1, 1931, p. 19, photo: Archiv der Moderne Weimar.

The history of the Stalinist critique of the Bauhaus in general and Hannes Meyer in particular has two chapters. The first spans the time from 1929 to the Architects’ Congress in the Soviet Union in 1937; the second revolves around the condemnation of the Bauhaus in the GDR that took place during a trip several East German architects made to Moscow in the spring of 1950.  

Front page of ABC, No. 2, 1926, created with Hannes Meyer as editor.

This history has two main protagonists: Hannes Meyer and Arkady Mordvinov. While both maintained close ties during its first phase, Meyer was one of the main defendant in the Soviet’s prosecution of the Bauhaus in 1950/51, when he stood in the ideological dock in defense of a position he had long left behind, unable, from his new home in Switzerland (after living nearly a decade in Mexico City), to take part in the discussion. Mordvinov, his former fellow traveler and student, and at that point the president of the Soviet Academy of Architecture, had become his judge.

Whatever shady political tricks Meyer might have played, no matter how strongly he may have been involved in political intrigues or disappointed his fellow travelers,1 he was incapable of compromise as an architect. This is the reason why very few of his buildings were ever realized. In this text, I limit myself to the first chapter of this history.

1919–1929: Mutual Resonance between the Bauhaus and Soviet architecture

The beginning of the relationship between the Bauhaus and Soviet architecture following World War I and the revolutions in Russia and Germany is marked by mutual declarations of internationalism and hopes for a departure to a new world. Cables were sent between the Arbeitsrat für Kunst (Workers’ Council for Art) in Berlin and the Department for Visual Art (IZO) at the People’s Commissariat of Enlightenment; signed by the likes of Bruno Taut, Walter Gropius, Adolf Behne and Wassily Kandinsky, commissioner of the IZO for Germany. After Kandinsky sent the “Art Program”’ of the Russian government to Walter Gropius in Weimar and the Arbeitsrat für Kunst in Berlin, among others,2 via an emissary3 who embarked for Germany in December 1918, it was Kandinsky as well who first reported on the Bauhaus in the Russian press and on the fact that Gropius’ response to the Russian program of an “integration of the arts under the roof of architecture” was very positive, as Kandinsky noted in his essay “Architecture as Synthetic Art” (1920).4 There were evidently shared influences between Gropius’ program for the Bauhaus and Kandinsky’s proposals for the Moscow Institute of Artistic Culture (InKhuK).5 However, Kandinsky was defeated in the internal dispute at the InKhuK by the radical constructivists around Aleksander Rodchenko, Varvara Stepanova and Lyubov Popova, who rejected Kandinsky’s prior theoretical work, “Concerning the Spiritual in Art” (1911). Ultimately, Kandinsky left Moscow in December 1921, traveling to Berlin via Riga. He accepted Gropius’ call to the Bauhaus as early as in June 1922 and from the time of his self-imposed exile was no longer a contact partner in Russia.

At the Internationalen Architekturausstellung (International Architecture Exhibition), held in the frame of the Bauhaus week in 1923, Gropius was intent on also displaying the “development of the new Russian architecture”6. But this failed after the emissary from Moscow (Evsej Davidovič Šor), a staff member of the architecture workshop of the MOSSOVET and the architecture section of the State Academy of Artistic Sciences (GAKhN), used his visit to emigrate.7 Instead, Ėl’ Lisickij (El Lissitzky) traveled from Switzerland to Weimar and on 17 August, 1923, presented a proposal for an international architects’ congress in Moscow during a “meeting with Gropius,” probably with Bruno and Max Taut, Erich Mendelsohn, Mies van der Rohe, Adolf Behne and J.J.P. Oud also in attendance (plans for a “Constructivist Internationale” had failed a year earlier).8 When Gropius made plans for his first Bauhaus book Internationale Architektur in 1924, László Moholy-Nagy also turned to Lissitzky for a Russian contribution.9

It was Lissitzky’s elastic concept of constructivism among other things that allowed him to take on the role of central mediator between the different factions of the avant-garde inEast and West. From the first encounter between Lissitzky and Mart Stam in Berlin in 1922—via the passing on of Lissitzky’s inspirations through Stam to Hans Schmidt and Werner Moser, who stayed in Holland a short while afterwards—one can draw a direct line to the invitation extended to the Swiss architects Hannes Meyer, Hans Wittwer, Paul Artaria and Emil Roth in early 1923 to join the group forming at the time. With the participation of Stam and Lissitzky, they founded ABC in spring of 1924, “an association that became the most important group of constructivist architects outside of the USSR,”10 and which from 1924 to 1928 published an eponymously named magazine. The ten published issues of ABC. Beiträge zum Bauen dealt with building as well as more recent art in manifesto-like cultural-critical texts, presenting the concept of “New Building.”

Moisei Ginzburg’s article ‘The International Front of Modern Architecture’, in: Sovremennaja Architektura (Soviet Architecture), No. 2, 1926.

Joost Schmidt, Poster for the Bauhaus exhibition in Weimar, lithography, 1923, Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2018.

By the mid-1920s, the reception of the Bauhaus and the efforts to establish international contacts among modernist Soviet architects had become an important issue in the budding debate on the further development of the Soviet Union. Confronted, in the wake of the country’s industrialization, with imminent strategic decisions on the country’s direction, avant-gardists and traditionalists continued their fight for cultural hegemony. Immediately after the First All-Union Congress for Civil Engineering and Engineering in May 1926,11 during which Moisei Ginzburg had spoken about the “recent architectural trends in our country and abroad,”12 the OSA periodical Sovremennaja Architektura (Modern Architecture) published his article “The International Front of Modern Architecture”13. The issue also contained a report on the meeting of Bruno Taut and Erich Mendelsohn at the All-Union Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries (VOKS) with Ginzburg, David Arkin, Aleksei Gan and others, in which their chairwoman Ol’ga Kameneva also participated. During this meeting they jointly discussed the creation of the International Front of Modern Architecture. A first step was taken by establishing official contacts between the Higher Artistic and Technical Workshops in Moscow (Vkhutemas) and the Bauhaus. In the report Ginzburg refers to Lissitzky’s faculty at the Vkhutemas, “where the constructivists design objects of everyday use and realize them in practice.”14 Aleksei Gan, who was responsible for the design of Sovremennaja Architektura, also hoped to establish connections with “the progressive architects of the West and America,” especially with “the German constructivists of the Bauhaus,” in order to help “them take the more correct and consistent path of our constructivism.”15

A half year later, at the end of 1926 or beginning of 1927, Hannes Meyer accepted Gropius’s offer to take over the master class for architecture at the Bauhaus, the so-called Baulehre (building theory), beginning in April of that year. According to sources, Gropius got to know Meyer only at the opening of the Bauhaus building in Dessau on 4 December, 1926. Previously Gropius had asked Mart Stam to take charge of the architecture department, but he had declined. One can only speculate about Gropius’ reasons for his choice: I presume the ABC network and Lissitzky were behind it. Gropius offered Meyer the position on 18 December 1926.16 Reading the exchange of letters between Meyer and Gropius, the Swiss architect leaves no doubt about his programmatic orientation: “the basic tendency of my classes will be absolutely functional-collectivist-constructive in the sense of ‘abc’ and the ‘neue welt.’”17 One could assume that Gropius with his offers first to Stam and then Meyer, the expectations of the Soviet side to lead the Bauhaus to a “more correct and consistent path of constructivism” had been optimally fulfilled. At any rate, early in 1927 Lissitzky reported enthusiastically on the Bauhaus opened in Dessau under Gropius, drawing a direct line between the school, the November Revolution, the Workers’ Committee for Art and Vkhutemas.18

Poster of the OSA exhibition 1927 by Aleksei Gan.

With his contributions to ABC and his programmatic text, “Die neue Welt” (The New World),19 Meyer had orientated himself to Lissitzky; his designs for the Petersschule in Basel and the League of Nations in Geneva (both with Hans Wittwer) and his experience with the construction of residential buildings corresponded with this “general line.”

On 5 February 1927, David Arkin gave an account of the contacts between the Bauhaus and the Vkhutemas in the official government newspaper Izvestija.20: "Вхутемас и германский 'Баухауз’" (The Vkhutemas and the German “Bauhaus”), in: Izvestija, 5 February 1927. Arkin underscored the special interest on the Soviet side in the orientation of the Bauhaus towards “the mass production of objects of daily use” and questions of “furnishing homes,” taking “the newest demands on living hygiene and the economic and rational organization of living” into account. He wrote that the Bauhaus had recently made the proposal of exchanging exhibitions of student works with the Vkhutemas. Student excursions were intended to facilitate greater familiarity. “Under the direction of the excellent architect Walter Gropius, the masters of the ‘Bauhaus’ expressed particularly great interest in the artistic movement of the USSR.”] The contacts, which were now official, resulted not only in the legendary visit of Muscovite students to the Bauhaus in autumn of 1927 and that of Bauhaus students to the Vkhutemas in the spring of 1928,21 but also in the participation of the Bauhaus in the First Exhibition of Modern Architecture in Moscow (18 June to 15 Augus 1927), organized by the OSA, designed by Aleksei Gan and shown of the premises of Vkhutemas.22

While in his 1926 essay, “The International Front of Modern Architecture,” Ginzburg had ignored the Bauhaus, mentioning Gropius alongside Arthur Korn, Fritz Glantz, Bruno and Max Taut, Erich Mendelsohn, Mies van der Rohe and others as opening “a new stage of development of modern German architecture,’23 without referring to his role at the Bauhaus, the First [International] Exhibition of Modern Architecture in Moscow gave the Bauhaus its own section, prominently featuring works by Walter Gropius and Hannes Meyer in the section dedicated to foreign architecture (Meyer: Freidorf, Co-op interior, Basel School, League of Nations). Issue 6/1927 of Sovremennaja Architektura was entirely dedicated to the First Exhibition of Modern Architecture, and Ginzburg’s editorial, “Constructivism as a Method of Experimental and Pedagogical Work,” was accompanied by illustrations of Bauhaus projects by Gropius in Dessau and Hannes Meyer and Hans Wittwer’s project for the palace of the League of Nations.24

Sovremennaja Architektura 5/1928 also fixed upon Meyer’s replacement of Gropius as Bauhaus director that occurred on 1 April 1928—directly after “Constructivism in Architecture,” the paper Ginzburg delivered at the OSA’s first conference. Gropius’s text “The Architect as Organizer of the Building Industry”25 was followed by Ernst Kállai’s26 contribution, “The Bauhaus Lives,”27 which countered fears of a new crisis at the Bauhaus or even its end. The journal’s description of the national school for the ADGB project by Meyer and Wittwer was accompanied by the editors’ question whether—in the light of the reformist character of the Allgemeinen Deutschen Gewerkschaftsbundes (General Federation of German Trade Unions, AGDB)—a “non-proletarian” goal could also be discerned in the building’s stated function. The original plan was to obtain a statement by the communist unions, but that never materialized. As if to assure his correct ideological position, Meyer’s programmatic text, ‘The New World” (1926), was also published in the issue. And Ginzburg, too, stressed the continuity in ideological position from Gropius to Meyer. In his speech at the OSA conference in April 1928, published in the same issue, he had pointed out: “Functionalism in architecture … opens up new perspectives for us—the creation of a socially new, standard architecture. But there are also many architects in the West who seek to overcome individualistic contradictions.… In Germany, one should note and highlight the German ‘Bauhaus’ school in Dessau, which under the direction of Gropius and Hannes Meyer has successfully overcome all the enumerated deficiencies of new German architecture, bringing it [the Bauhaus school] closest, regarding its entire ideological foundation, to our constructivist architecture.’28 It is remarkable how strongly Ginzburg highlighted the propinquity between Gropius und Meyer, while a bit later, especially after Meyer’s move to the Soviet Union in 1930, others—above all Gropius and Meyer themselves—accentuated their differences. This was first noted in Ginzburg’s appreciation of Gropius in 1928. The paper, it must also be considered, simultaneously served to showcase Ginzburg’s participation in the foundation of the CIAM in 1928, which he couldn’t attend as his visa for Switzerland was issued too late. One intention of this meeting was to integrate the German national group, which was initially in disagreement due to the qualms of Hugo Häring, chairman of the association of architects Der Ring. For this reason, Gropius was not a founding member of the CIAM either; only later did he assume the position of German representative. In a letter, Sigfried Giedion assured Lissitzky that “the way in which the whole matter has developed, ... the actual avant-garde [will most likely] take over control at this congress”29—meaning the ABC circle of Lissitzky, Ginzburg and Le Corbusier, as well as Bauhaus director Hannes Meyer.

The year 1928 was without doubt the climax of the mutual resonance between Soviet constructivism and the international movement of New Building, including the Bauhaus headed by Walter Gropius and Hannes Meyer. A further indication of this was the commissioning of Le Corbusier to build the Centrosojuz building in Moscow.

View of the Bauhaus section of the OSA exhibition 1927.

The Year 1929

In the wrangling between traditionalists and modernists in the Soviet Union, the victory of constructivism appeared inevitable in 1928/29. The OSA had important allies at this time: the trade unions, the co-operative movement, the People’s Commissariats for Labor, for Workers and Farmers Inspection, and for Enlightenment (education), the Supreme Soviet of the National Economy, the Building Commission of the RSFSR, parts of the Communist Academy, etc. In socio-political terms (from economy to culture), what was at issue was to connect developments in the Western countries with the development of the Soviet Union. Close relations were sought, even though the spreading of the revolution was no longer, after the relative stabilization in the capitalistically dominated countries and the building up of the Soviet Union, a primary concern. The Soviet Union was now orientated towards the development of its own modes of production and living. Belated modernization within the Soviet Union was based on the advanced technology of the West, but the development of a socialist mode of housing and living was also attractive for the majority of the population in the West as well. Leftist social democracy and cultural bolshevism oriented towards the life-world had much in common. The problem of the new contracting authority, clearly addressed by Ginzburg and others, aimed at internal democratization, with grasping the social and aesthetic dimension of New Building. And vice versa: the inner logic of the questions raised at subsequent CIAM congresses—from housing at the subsistence level (1929), to rational modes of construction (1930), to the functional city (1931)—was in line with the assumption that socialism could free-up and develop on a large scale the productive forces of New Building that had evolved under capitalism by abolishing private land ownership. New Building and public housing were to be realized in socialist urban development within the Soviet Union.

Lenin Library by Vladimir Ščuko und Vladimir Gel’frejch (1928–41).

The competition for the construction of the Lenin Library became one of the crystallization points of the hegemonic dispute between avant-gardists and traditionalists in the architecture field. In early 1929, the result of the competition won by Vladimir Ščuko was sharply criticized by the ARU (Association of Architect-Urbanists), ASNOVA, the circle of architects of the VKhUTEIN (until 1926 Vkhutemas) and, initially, VOPRA (All-Union Association of Proletarian Architects) as well. In issue 3/1929, Sovremennaja Architektura published a protest letter against eclecticism by the aforementioned architecture organizations, presenting the counter-proposal of the Vesnin brothers. Yet when the editorial staff of Stroitel’stvo Moskvy (Building Moscow) published the competition contribution in issue 7/1929, the statement of the VOPRA was missing from the accompanying protest letters. The editors of Stroitel’stvo Moskvy bravely demanded an explanation for the bad decision from the chairman of the government commission, former people’s commissioner for education Anatoly Lunaskarsky. Instead of a reply, the next issue included VOPRA’s “Declaration of the All-Union Association of Proletarian Architects,” who argued against “eclecticism,” “constructivism” and “formalism” in architecture and in favor of a “proletarian architecture”30.

The breaking of ranks and subsequent ideological offensive of the VOPRA can only be explained by Stalin’s policy shift at the April plenum of the CPSU (B) in 1929. After Stalin— first in alliance with Nikolai Bukharin and based on an evolutionary concept of the industrialization of the Soviet Union—had eliminated Lev Trockij (Trotzky) and the “leftist opposition,” in April 1929 he initiated a public battle on the stage of the joint plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Committee against both Bukharin (as the chairman of the Communist International) and Aleksei Rykov (as the chairman of the Council of People’s Commissioners, i.e. the union government), shifting to the concept of “a rapid rate of development of our industry” and the application of “emergency measures” against the independent peasantry. Assessing that the relative stability of capitalism had come to an end, Stalin put forward facts “[indicating] beyond a doubt that the elements of a new revolutionary upsurge are accumulating in the capitalist countries,” while in the Soviet Union, an “offensive of socialism against the capitalist elements of the national economy along the whole front” was on the agenda, resulting in “the task of intensifying the fight against Social-Democracy, and, above all, against its ‘Left’ wing, as being the social buttress of capitalism. Hence the task of intensifying the fight in the Communist Parties against the Right elements, as being the agents of Social-Democratic influence.”31

View of the Bauhaus section of the OSA exhibition 1927.

Facsimile of the article by Ernst Kállai ‘The Bauhaus Lives’, in: Sovremennaja Architektura, No. 5, 1928, p. 148.

Based on the devastating thesis of the “general intensification of the class struggle,” the VOPRA, which was directly connected with the party, reordered the discursive field and opened the fight between the factions. In their view, the architecture of the USSR was still navigating “in the wake of bourgeois art.” In a sociologically reductivist manner, VOPRA attributed the various European architectural movements to different development stages and milieus of bourgeois society. Eclecticism, as the mechanical imitation of old architecture, was deemed an expression of the era of industrial and merchant capitalism. Although formalism was based on the separation between decoration and new, more technologically oriented modes of constructing, it also signified a resort to an escapist, abstract search for “new” forms and followed a dangerous utopianism. It was a petit-bourgeois reaction to finance capitalism. Constructivism, which emerged with monopolistic capitalism, had led to the negation of art and its replacement by technology and engineering. With its machine fetishism, anti-psychologism and vulgar materialism, it corresponded to the “psycho-ideology” of the technical intelligence of big business.32

Now, sights were set on international modernism, as well. Here is an exemplary quote by VOPRA member Vasily Simbircev in Stroitel’stvo Moskvy 11/1929: “Starting with the practice of eclectic groups that tenaciously resurge and in a dignified way make use of old, outdated forms and styles of feudal and merchant-capitalist architecture, and ending with ultra-left constructivism, which transfers the architecture of big business (Corbusier, Bauhaus in Dessau in Germany, among others) to our [Soviet] ground, we have works of the most various schools and movements in the new architecture of Moscow. These movements are incessantly fighting for hegemony in architecture, and the latter, as with other areas of our building up, appears not as a unified stream but [are] sharply distinguished according to the class-related expression of the groups that not only make their appearance with manifestos and declarations, not only lead lengthy theoretical discussions, but battle with each other in practice. This battle is intensifying today, in connection with the general intensification of class struggle in the country.”33

A year later, VOPRA member Michail Krjukov declared that, as opposed to eclecticism, formalism and constructivism, a “fourth direction” had emerged with the “new society of proletarian architects”: “It is faced with the task of being the fighting organization for the proletarian ideology in the field of architecture. Unfortunately, the young organization is much too small and has only had a weak influence in the first year of its existence.’34

Competition contribution by the Vesnin brothers for the building of the Lenin Library, Sovremennaja Architektura, No. 3, 1929.

Altered discursive structure

This was the discursive structure awaiting Hannes Meyer upon his arrival in Moscow in the autumn of 1930.35 Meyer joined ranks with the VOPRA, thus taking the side of the ideological opponents of the international movement of New Building—the forces that interpreted the Bauhaus as the aesthetic expression of big business and the monopolistic bourgeoisie. This orientation towards a “proletarian architecture” did not yet have direct consequences in terms of design, but was indeed of consequence in terms of politics and theory. The basic argument ran as follows: The eclecticists may have acknowledged the artistic character of architecture, but they drew their forms exclusively from the past, while the formalists and, above all, the constructivists/functionalists flatly denied the artistic character of architecture. But at stake, in the latter’s view, was precisely the task of unfolding the artistic character of architecture through new architectural forms corresponding with the class content of the proletariat.

Hence, Meyer, too, had recommitted to an “art of felt imitation” and the “demands we make on life … depending on social stratification” that he had sought to leave behind with the orientation towards world citizenship and standard production in his programmatic text “The New World” from 1926. Now, the proletariat was to be conceded what he had previously denied the bohemians: “color values, burr, mellow tones, and random brush-strokes,” “the novel,” “picture and sculpture as images of the real world.”36

The Stalinist critique of the Bauhaus took place simultaneously in view of and with Hannes Meyer. In this ideological setting, he was both object and subject. And in the course of this critique’s articulation, the fatal social fascism thesis and the reactivation of architecture as the art of building were interwoven. This can be discerned quite well in the catalogue of the Bauhaus exhibition held in Moscow from June to September 1931, nine months after Meyer’s arrival.

Competition contribution by the Vesnin brothers for the building of the Lenin Library, Sovremennaja Architektura, No. 3, 1929.

In his introduction to the catalogue, Meyer gave an account—in the third person—of the history of the Bauhaus up to the present, and of his dismissal for political reasons. He came to the following conclusion: “Fascist reaction had overwhelmed [the] Bauhaus.” In the very next sentence he switched to the first person plural: “Our experience in Bauhaus Dessau showed that ‘Red Bauhaus’ as an educational institute was infeasible under capitalist conditions.” Concluding his report, oddly, in the third person, he wrote: “Basing themselves on this conclusion, Hannes Meyer and a group of his colleagues from Bauhaus made themselves available to the Soviet Union for socialist construction.”37 Thus, Meyer’s subjective testimony became part of the legitimization of an allegedly “objective” process—that of bourgeois-capitalist society inevitably turning fascist, with the only resort being the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat or the participation in the socialist building up in the Soviet Union.

Arkady Mordvinov wrote a longer text for the catalogue. He and his fellow architecture students had visited the Dessau Bauhaus in 1927, and in 1929 he was among the co-founders of VOPRA. In his text, he endeavored to outline “the leading trends and contradictions of capitalist Germany, including the formation of proletarian art in its core,” an art “in irreconcilable contradiction to the ruling bourgeois ideology.”38 Where Ginzburg saw a continuity from Gropius to Meyer, Mordvinov perceived a break, exaggerating and schematizing the differences between the two. Mordvinov then contended that the social moment was developed the highest at the Bauhaus not in terms of architecture and the production of objects for everyday use, but in the poster, in photo-montage and the design of periodicals, books and brochures: “In this field we already see a reversal of formalism, a technicism, a rejection of art towards an art of proletarian content. … This change of course had still not embraced the spheres of fresco painting, monumental sculpture, the design of mass worker festivals and demonstrations and had no impact on architecture.”39

Facsimile of the article by Arkady Mordvinov in Sovetskaja Architektura, No. 1/2, 1931.

It must have been a bitter pill for Meyer that Mordvinov failed to mention his balcony access houses or the national school of the AGDB—buildings that are today UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites—as positive examples of the Meyer era, instead focusing on poster design and printed matter. However, Mordvinov deemed three points of the “Meyer school” positive: 1. The scientific method for designing architectural works, 2. the concept of rationalizing production (classification/standardization), 3. Meyer’s system of architectural education where professors and students worked together on actual projects.

But the negative critique was more crucial: In Mordinov’s view, the neglecting of the class contents of art and especially the banning of artistic moments from architecture itself resulted in reducing the architectural work to a fulfillment of elementary functions. He concluded: “Let’s hope that in Soviet conditions the negative features of Hannes Meyer and his group will be overcome.”40

Meyer eventually accepted this lesson. At the beginning of his stay in the Soviet Union, he was still cleaving to his functionalist viewpoint, writing in a text entitled “On Marxist Architecture” (Manuscript dated 13 June, 1931) that “architecture is no longer the art of building.”41 By the following year he had become a convert: “I judge the rejection of art in building, advocated by some modern, capitalist architects, as one of the symptoms of the collapse of bourgeois culture. … With regard to socialist architecture, we grasp ‘art’ as the sum of all measures demanded by the ideological organization of a building or city, to become directly vivid to the proletariat. The value of this art is determined by its political content. In this proletarian architecture, the maximum experience of the mass of workers is the prime achievement, the ideology of the working class, its heroism and its revolutionary will are the inexhaustible sources of this architecture.”42

The Stalinization of Soviet architecture should not be regarded as a fully completed project. And it is worth noting that even while the exhibition The Bauhaus in Dessau 1928–1930 was being presented in Moscow, Walter Gropius was negotiating with Soviet representatives in Berlin regarding taking over the city development department at GIPROGOR, as well as on his contribution to the competition for the Palace of the Soviets. But ultimately, in this competition, neither Gropius nor Hannes Meyer stood a chance.

Facsimile of the article by Arkady Mordvinov in Sovetskaja Architektura, No. 1/2, 1931.

The German version of this text "Von der Anerkennung zur Ablehnung. Hannes Meyer und die Bauhaus-Rezeption in der Sowjetunion" will be published in October 2018 in: Thomas Flierl & Philipp Oswalt (eds.): Hannes Meyer nach dem Bauhaus. Im Streit der Deutungen, Spector Books, Leipzig 2018.

●Footnotes
  • 1 Cf. Harald Bodenschatz and Thomas Flierl (eds.): Von Adenauer zu Stalin, Theater der Zeit, Berlin, 2016, pp. 9–14 and pp. 131–138.
  • 2 Cf. Adolf Behne: "Vorschlag einer brüderlichen Zusammenkunft der Künstler aller Länder," in: Sozialistische Monatshefte, 3 (1919), p. 155–157.
  • 3 Ludwig Bаеhr was the lawyer representing Kandinsky when he separated from Gabriele Münter. He was also an artist and wound up in Russia as a German prisoner of war. Cf. Из истории художественной жизни СССР. Интернациональные связи в области изобразительного искусства 1917–1940 (From the History of Art Life in the USSR. International relations in the Field of Visual Art 1917–1940), Moscow 1987, p. 42.
  • 4 Архитектура как синтетическое искусство (из писем и программ германских художников) (Architecture as Synthetic Art (from  letters and programmes of German artists)), in: Художественная жизнь (Artistic Life), 4,5 (1920), p. 23f.
  • 5 Cf. Christina Lodder: "The VKhUTEMAS and the Bauhaus," in: Gail Harrison Roman and Virginia Hagelstein Marquardt (eds.): The Avant-Garde Frontier. Russia Meets the West, 1910–1930, University Press of Florida, Gainesville 1992, p. 196–240, here p. 224.
  • 6 Letter from Walter Gropius to Edwin Redslob dated May 1923, ThHStAW, Bestand Bauhaus, Akte 33, Bl. 34.
  • 7 For biographical data on Šor see Dmitry Segal, Вячеслав Иванов и семя Шор (Vjačeslav Ivanov and the Šor Family), in: Cahiers du Monde russe, XXXV (1–2) 1994, pp. 331–352.
  • 8 Oskar Beyer (ed.): Erich Mendelsohn. Briefe eines Architekten, Prestel-Verlag, Munich, 1961, pp. 56–58.
  • 9 Letter from László Moholy-Nagy to El Lissitzky dated 7 April 1924, in: Sophie Lissitzky-Küppers (ed.): El Lissitzky. Proun und Wolkenbügel. Schriften, Briefe, Dokumente, Verlag der Kunst, Dresden 1977, p. 179. Tat’iana Ėfrussi thinks it is conceivable that Lisickij also negotiated the participation of the Bauhaus in the First German Art Exhibition (1924) in Moscow and Saratov. Cf. same, Баухауз на выставках в СССР 1924 – 1932 (The Bauhaus at Exhibitions in the USSR 1924 1932), http://www.actual-art.org/en/132-st2012/rus20/521-efrussi-baukhauz-na-vystavkakh-v-sssr.html (25 July 2018).
  • 10 Sima Ingberman: ABC – Die Internationale Konstruktivistische Architektur 1922–1939, Birkhäuser Verlag, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden 1997, p.  8.
  • 11 Труды Первого Всесоюзного съезда по гражданскому и инженерному строительству (6–15 мая 1926) (Documents of the First All-Union Congress for Civil Engineering and Engineering, 6–15 May, 1926), Moscow 1928 (http://нэб.рф/catalog/000219_000026_RU___ГПНТБ+России___IBIS___0000639353/) (25 July 2018).
  • 12 During the congress, David Arkin wrote a report for Izvestija (news, government paper) stating: ‘The creation of Soviet architecture corresponds with the efforts of Gropius, Mendelsohn, Corbusier, Mallet-Stevens and other progressive architects in Germany, France and Holland.’ (A. Vetrov (David Arkin), Сегодняшний день в архитектуре и строительстве (The Today in Architecture and the Building Industry), in: Izvestija, 13 May, 1926.
  • 13 Moisei Ginzburg: „Международный фронт современной архитектуры” (The International Front of Modern Architecture), in: Sovremennaja Architektura, 2 (1926), pp. 41–46.
  • 14 "Собеседование в Вокс'е” (A Discussion at VOKS), in: Sovremennaja Architektura, 2/1926, p. 60.
  • 15 Ibid., p. 62.
  • 16 Cf. letter from Walter Gropius to Hannes Meyer dated 18 December 1926, in: Martin Kieren: Hannes Meyer. Dokumente zur Frühzeit. Architektur und Gestaltungsversuche 1919–1927, Niggli, Heiden 1990, p. 141.
  • 17 Letter from Hannes Meyer to Walter Gropius, dated 16 February 1927 (as a subsequent fixing of the agreement), in: Hannes Meyer: Bauen und Gesellschaft. Schriften, Briefe, Projekte, ed. by Lena Meyer-Bergner, VEB Verlag der Kunst, Dresden 1980, p. 44.
  • 18 In the summer and autumn of 1926, Lissitzky was in Germany for the Dresdner Internationale Kunstausstellung (June to September), during which time he designed his Room for Constructivist Art and began installing The Abstract Cabinet in Hanover. In issue 1/1927 of Stroitel’naja Promyšlennost’ (The Building Industry) he outlined the history of the Bauhaus on the occasion of its opening in Dessau.
  • 19 Hannes Meyer: “Die neue Welt,” in: Das Werk, 7/1926, pp. 205–224; English translation: “The New World,” in: Hannes Mayer, Buildings, Projects and Writings, Arthur Niggli Ltd., Teufen AR, Switzerland 1965.
  • 20 A.[rkadin
  • 21 Cf. Tat’iana Ėfrussi: “ВХУТЕМАС в Баухаузе. Баухауз во ВХУТЕМАСе. История двух путешествий” (The Vkhutemas at the Bauhaus, the Bauhaus at the Vkhutemas: The Story of Two Trips), in: Архитектура. Строительство. Дизайн (Architecture, Building Industry, Design, 2004), http://www.archjournal.ru/rus/03602010/whiutemas.htm (25 July 2018).
  • 22 Cf. Sovremennaja Architektura, issues 4, 5 and 6 (1927).
  • 23 Moisei Ginzburg: "The International Front of Modern Architecture," in: Sovremennaja Architektura, 2 (1926), p. 42.
  • 24 Cf. Moisei Ginzburg: "Конструктивизм как метод лабораторной и педагогической работы" (Constructivism as a Method of Experimental and Pedagogical Work), in: Sovremennaja Architektura, 6 (1927), pp. 160–166.
  • 25 Cf. “Der Architekt als Organisator der modernen Bauwirtschaft und seine Forderungen an die Industrie,” in: Fritz Block (ed.): Probleme des Bauens, Potsdam 1928, also printed in: Hartmut Probst/Christian Schädlich (eds.): Walter Gropius, Vol. 3, Ernst & Sohn, Berlin 1988, pp. 118–122.
  • 26 Art critic and editor of the periodical bauhaus. zeitschrift für gestaltung in the period 1928–29.
  • 27 The text had previously been published in the periodical bauhaus. zeitschrift für gestaltung, 2/3 (1928), edited by the Bauhaus Dessau.
  • 28 Moisei Ginzburg: “Конструктивизм в архитектуре (доклад на первой конференции ОСА)” (Constructivism in Architecture (Lecture at the first OSA Conference)), in: Sovremennaja Architektura, 5 (1928), pp. 143–145.
  • 29 Letter by Sigfried Giedion to El Lissitzky, dated 20 June 1928, gta-Archiv/ETH Zürich.
  • 30 Stroitel'stvo Moskvy, 8 (1929), p. 25f. As founding members VOPRA signed by: Alabjan, Baburov, Babenkov, Vlasov, Derjabin, Zapletin, Zaslavsky, Zil'bert, Ivanov, Kozelkov, Kočar, Krestin, Krjukov, Kupovsky, Mazmanjan, Maca, Michajlov, Mordvinov, Poljakov, Terechin, Simbircev, Solodovnik, Fajfel'.
  • 31 J. W. Stalin: “The Right Deviation in the C.P.S.U. (B). Speech Delivered at the Plenum of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission of the C.P.S.U.(B.) in April 1929” (Verbatim Report), in: J. W. Stalin: Works, Vol. 12, April 1929 – June 1930, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow 1954, pp. 1–113.
  • 32 See Stroitel'stvo Moskvy, 8/1929.
  • 33 V.N. Simbircev: "Итоги года" (Annual Results), in: Stroitel'stvo Moskvy, No. 11, 1929, p. 2.
  • 34 M. V. Krjukov: "Год борьбы на строительном фронте" (A Year of Fighting on the Building Front), in: Stroitel'stvo Moskvy, No. 11, 1930, pp. 9–12.
  • 35 Accounts on the events at the Bauhaus and Hannes Meyer’s arrival in Moscow: A. Gartman in Pravda (Truth, central organ of the CP) on 11 August and 12 October 1930, Stroitel’stvo Moskvy, No. 11, 1930, E. Zargorskaja: ‘Ганнес Мейер в Москве’ (Hannes Meyer in Moscow), in: Za proletarskoe iskusstvo (For Proletarian Art), No. , 1931, p. 28.
  • 36 Hannes Meyer: “Die neue Welt” (1926), see note 19.
  • 37 "Баухауз Дессау 1928–1930" (Bauhaus Dessau, 1928–1930), in: VOKZ/GMNZI, Moscow 1930, p. 10.
  • 38 Catalogue of the Bauhaus exhibition The Bauhaus in Dessau 1928–1930 in Moscow, 1931. For a detailed article about this Bauhaus catalogue, please read: Tatiana Efrussi: “After the Ball. Hannes Meyer Presenting the Bauhaus in Moscow”, in this online journal.
  • 39 This line of argumentation must, of course, also be read as an implicit reckoning with El Lissitzky, Nikolai Ladovsky and Moisei Ginzburg.
  • 40 David Е. Arkin, Nikolaj А. Miljutin, Roman Ja. Chiger, A. Michajlov and Lev M. Perčik also argued along the same lines as Mordvinov.
  • 41 Hannes Meyer: “Über marxistische Architektur,” in: Meyer: Bauen und Gesellschaft, 1980, p. 92.
  • 42 Hannes Meyer: “Antworten auf Fragen der Prager Architektengruppe Leva Fronta” (1932), Ibid., p. 122f.
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