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Balconies from The House on Myasnitskaya Street
This photograph, taken in the fall of 1925, is one from a series titled The House on Myasnitskaya Street. The images represent buildings of Yuskhov House, a historic mansion in Moscow at 21 Myasnitskaya Street. The mansion was built in 1780 for Lieutenant General Ivan Yushkov, and is notable for its corner rotunda with a semicircular balcony and colonnade. In the 19th century the general's heirs rented the house to the Moscow Arts Society for drawing classes; eventually it became the headquarters of the leading school for Russian academic art. After the Bolshevik Revolution, the Free State Art Studios (SVOMAS) occupied Yushkov House. Its surrounding gardens were uprooted and its historic outbuildings razed, to be replaced by modern structures built in the international style. This is an image of the main modern tower, housing faculty and student apartments, classrooms and an auditorium. After VKhUTEMAS Higher State Artistic and Technical Studios officially replace SVOMAS in 1920, Rodchenko and Stepanova his wife lived in the new, modern buildings, as did Vladimir Mayakovsky and other artists, poets, sculptors and musicians associated with the academy. To the Bolshevik art establishment, Yushkov House had become a symbol of the proletariat expropriation of Russian culture.
In his photographs of VKhUTEMAS headquarters, Rodchenko ignored the well-known 18th-century facade of Yushkov House and concentrated on the modernist structure in the courtyard behind. The high-rise block of simple, solid geometry provided identical apartments to many residents. This modular design made visible the notion of social equity, even between students and ranking officials. Rodchenko took his camera though sic the building to examine its form from different angles, looking down from the highest stories and up from the street in sharp angles. Several of his photographs concentrate on its identical balconies, projecting into space.
from Acton, A History of Photography at the University of Notre Dame: Twentieth Century (Notre Dame, 2019)