This important magazine was a publication of the Moscow Soviet of Workers’ Peasants’ and Red Army Soldiers’ Deputies. It was published monthly and devoted to the practical and theoretical architecture of the city. The editorial board included Victor Vesnin, one of the famous ‘Vesnin brothers’, the triumvirate of great avant-garde architects. One of the other brothers, Aleksandr, was an editor of another famous architectural journal, Sovremennaya Arkhitektura.
This issue has a feature on the competition of designs to build the Lenin Library, the state library of the USSR. The winner turned out to be Vladimir Shchuko and Vladimir Gelfreikh. Their design was starkly modernist and typical of 1927. However, serious delays meant that accepted architectural style had outgrown the avant-garde during the years of the library’s slow construction. Shchuko died in 1939, 6 years before the library was completed. Probably to keep themselves out of the Gulag, the architects still working on the building gave it the neo-classical appearance of the Stalinist period, grafted onto the modernist design. It is in this respect a highly significant building in that it not only encompasses two distinct architectural styles but also belongs to the political history of two separate periods of history: The optimism and forward-looking 1920s, praising the future, and modernity and the Stalinist state-building, paying homage to the greatness of the state and its leader.
The cover of this edition was co-designed by the famous and doomed ‘master’ of the Soviet Propaganda poster, former VKhUTEMAS pupil and teacher, Gustav Klutsis and the artist V. Yelkin. Klutsis produced some of the most recognisable propaganda images. He worked in as many media as possible, and designed street furniture with a purpose – in some cases to serve as propaganda ‘stations’ where a passer-by could hear propaganda messages, look at written information and also sit down for a rest.
Gustav Klutsis Propaganda posters (left and centre) and V. Yelkin (right)