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The Origins Of Modernism In Russian Architecture
by William Craft Brumfield
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"Thanks to Brumfield, a superb scholar-cum-photographer, we are beginning to appreciate the Russian achievement in architecture perhaps even more than the Russians do themselves. . . . He combines meticulous scholarship with his own excellent illustrations to give even those who do not know a pilaster from a spandrel a vivid sense of the distinctive features of the buildings. . . . An outstanding achievement (the best, and only, comprehensive book on the subject in any language."
The dramatic transformation of Russian architecture from the 1880s to the 1917 revolution reflected the profound changes in Russian society as it entered the modern industrial age. William Craft Brumfield examines the extraordinary diversity of architectural styles in this period and traces the search by architects and critics for a "unifying idea" that would define a new architecture. Generously illustrated with archival materials and with the author's own superb photographs, this is the first comprehensive study by a Western scholar of a neglected period in European architectural and cultural history.
Brumfield explores the diverse styles of Russian modernism in part by analyzing the contemporary theoretical debate about them: the relation between technology and style, the obligation of architecture to society, and the role of architecture as an expression of national identity. Steeped in controversy, Russian modernism at the beginning of the century foreshadowed the radical restructuring of architectural form in the Soviet Union during the two decades after the revolution. This authoritative work provides a new understanding of Russian architecture's last brief entrepreneurial episode and offers insight on our own era, when individual freedom and initiative may once again find expression in Russian architecture.
About the Author
William Craft Brumfield is Professor of Slavic Languages at Tulane University and the author of Gold in Azure: One Thousand Years of Russian Architecture (1983).
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