The Moscow iteration of the exhibition series bauhaus imaginista: Moving Away traces the complex relationship between the Bauhaus and the Soviet Union through the experiences of former Bauhaus teachers and students in Moscow in the 1930s. From its very beginnings, Bauhaus design ideas were profoundly influenced by the Russian avant-garde, with lines of communication between it and the Moscow design and architecture school Vkhutemas (1920–30) established early on. When Hannes Meyer arrived in 1927 to start the newly established building department at Bauhaus Dessau, these Russian ties were strengthened through regular visits, guest lectures and exhibitions.
Following his politically motivated dismissal in 1930, Meyer and seven of his Bauhaus students travelled to Moscow at the invitation of the Soviet government, such visits by architects and other engineering professionals being common at that time. While in the Soviet Union, Meyer worked for a series of institutes and collaborated on several urban projects. Meyer’s former students would continue to work for Soviet state agencies well after his departure for Switzerland in 1936, leading teams designing educational facilities, interiors and housing schemes. They conducted urban studies and undertook the large-scale planning of new town developments such as Orsk in the southern Ural region. When under Stalin’s regime, avant-garde ideas were summarily rejected, several Bauhaus architects were imprisoned and even given death sentences. Many left the Soviet Union with the Stalin purges, relocating, variously, to Europe, Asia or South America. Throughout the mid-twentieth century, in locales as diverse as Hungary, Chile, the German Democratic Republic and North-Korea, one could find Bauhaus-trained architects working as city planners and educators.