Ilya Golosov, the Avant-Garde, and the rise of the Soviet Union

A member of the Russian Avant-Garde, Ilya Golosov was one of many who embraced a modernist stance on literature, art, and architecture. An architect himself, Golosov embraced the progressive ideals of his other Avant-Garde associates and like other members of the Avant-Garde and the Peredvizhniki, studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpure, and Architecture. He graduated just in time for Russia’s entrance into World War I, when he served as a military engineer. After World War I, Golosov `struggled to find work due to the Russian Civil War and the ensuing years of Stalinist fear and purges. It was during these years that he started to work on his designs and he developed a style he called symbolic romanticism. This style involved one massive center of mass where all smaller shapes were subordinate to the main shape and decreased level by level, resembling a ripple in the water. As the Communist Party consolidated power, they started to ask architects to adopt more modern designs that veered away from traditionalist styles and designs. In response, Golosov dropped his symbolic romantic style and built the Zuev Worker’s Club, which was an ideal image of the constructivist architecture that most Soviet architects adopted. Its rectangular, concise shapes represented the Soviet Union’s attempts to rid their nation of its tsarist past and the culture, architecture, and traditions that went along with it. The Zuev Worker’s Club’s design was bland and normal looking, all the while emitting power and fear, just what the Soviet leaders wanted. One of the ways they could change the mindset of their people was through the buildings they lived in and that surrounded them and they used architects like Golosov to achieve these goals. This building was one of the first built in the new age of Soviet communism, an age that strayed away from the individualism of the old days and focused more on imprinting the communist doctrine on all Russians, so that everybody was under the control of the Communist Party. zuev_workers_club_012


5 thoughts on “Ilya Golosov, the Avant-Garde, and the rise of the Soviet Union

  1. This post gave a good look at the Avant-Garde and much of what they strove to accomplish. I thought it was interesting to learn how the Soviet Union worked to unify the architectural design of their build gins so that everything that could be controlled by the party was controlled by the party. I think it gives a good look at the absolutism of the Soviet Union and the lengths they were willing to go to to bring their people under the Red banner. I thought this was a good post that is both thought provoking and eye opening to just how much the party controlled in the Soviet Union.


  2. I previously knew nothing about Ilya Golosov so i found this post very interesting. I also find it cool how the Soviets build their buildings with a purpose in mind. It says a lot about a government to build boring but intimidating buildings.


  3. It is extremely interesting to me how pervasive of a cultural movement Communism was. The fact that an economic ideology was so dependent on such a massive culture shift is fascinating, and watching the ways in which the culture of Russia was bent to the will of Communism in order to make the economic system work is very revealing with regards to the psychology behind it. This building is a great example, as you noted, even the shape of buildings was manipulated to promote party power and allow the Bolsheviks to accomplish their goals.


  4. Ilya Golosov is a great example of the Avant-Garde expression outside of the traditional forms of literature and painting. His physical representation of communist concepts and new-age artistic techniques marries party message and media- creating a unique and powerful image. I find the contrast especially dramatic between the curved, transparent windows and the sharp corners and edges. Built with the workers in mind, it embodies not only proletarian themes but houses the masses of industrialization.


  5. It’s very interesting to me how you talked about the importance of architecture and space in imprinting doctrine. Because architecture is everywhere in our lives and sometimes we overlook the importance of it’s design, it’s a really powerful yet subtle tool in influencing thinking. And the break from traditionalism with Ilya Golosov and this club in particular really captures the idea that the revolution changed almost all aspects of life in Russia and went really deep into altering the psyche of the Russian people.


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