Even Soviets hated mods!

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 4.57.19 PM.png

In 1976 animated Soviet cartoon, last vestiges of ornament are wiped off buildings. (YouTube)

Ann Sussman, the architect/scientist whose neurobiological research has pinned down mental illness as a factor in modern architecture, sent me a video by a Russian cartoonist in 1976. It shows that even amid the official dominance of modernism under Stalin, and continuing during the, um, Brezhnev administration, modern architecture was seen for what it is and thus hated even by parts of the Soviet artistic intelligentsia.

Modern architecture was trying to put down its own revolt at this time in America and elsewhere, known as postmodernism. The mods squashed the postmods, and in a move of masterful jujitsu countered with a modernism that doubled down on its rejection of tradition (deconstructionism, blobism, etc.). Even still, a crack in the door was opened amid the turmoil enabling some archtects to seek a revival of the classical orders.

I don’t know much about the history of architecture in modern Russia, but from the high quality of some Russian classicism being built today, the same crack in the door might have been snuck through by classicists there. This video, “The Irony of Fate,” hints that the forces of sanity were not entirely crushed by Soviet modernism. (I like how the title of the cartoon seems to carom off the title “Choice or Fate,” by the famous cartoonist Léon Krier.)

[I’ve just learned through Seth Weine that this cartoon was the animated prologue to the Russian television miniseries “The Irony of Fate,” in which a Soviet male gets drunk with his friends and accidentally visits St. Petersburg taking a taxi to his apartment. He lives in an apartment that is identical to the apartment the taxi takes him to, into which, such is the uniformity of Soviet residential architecture, his own key fits. He goes in and goes to bed, not long after which the real resident returns to her flat. She is affianced, but he falls in love with her anyway. It is a romantic comedy. The link just above is not to the TV show but to the Wikipedia entry about the show. I see that Justin Lee Miller got there first with this in the comments to this post.]

Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 12.46.31 PM.png

The phenomenon of modern architecture marches around the world. (YouTube)

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Video and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Even Soviets hated mods!

  1. Justin Lee Miller says:

    I recommend watching the full film. It’s a romantic comedy. Through an odd series of events a man from Moscow finds himself in St Petersburg. He doesn’t know it, though. He hops in a taxi and gives the driver his address. Because the street names are the same and the buildings all look alike, he thinks he’s home. Miraculously, his key even works in the door! He then proceeds to fall in love with the woman who lives there. It’s really charming.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.