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Ivan Aleksandrovich Fomin

St. Petersburg, Russia
1 of 1

Ivan Aleksandrovich Fomin (February 3, 1872, Oryol - June 12, 1936, Moscow) was a Russian architect and educator. He began his career in 1899 in Moscow, working in the Art Nouveau style. After relocating to Saint Petersburg in 1905, he became an established master of the Neoclassical Revival movement. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, Fomin developed a Soviet adaptation of Neoclassicism and became one of the key contributors to an early phase of Stalinist architecture known as postconstructivism.

Fomin's early style was related to Schekhtel's and Austrian Jugendstil. His first and most notable work was the Wilhelmina Reck mansion in Skatertny Lane. The building is loosely modeled after the Elvira Studio by August Endell (1896, destroyed 1944); instead of Endell's marine motifs, Fomin decorated his work with plaster flowers and majolica inserts. The same floral motifs were used in the iron gates. The building still stands, albeit rebuilt beyond recognition.

Fomin's turn to Neoclassicism is traced to 1903, when he applied to the contest for Count Volkonsky estate with a neoclassical draft. In 1904, Fomin published his Revival Manifesto in Mir Iskusstva magazine, pledging to architectural legacy of Catherine and Alexander I. "These days, everyone wants to be individual, to invent his own, and in the end we cannot see nether a dominant style, nor a trace of those who can eventually create it". Fomin believed in a universal idea uniting everyone, and in an architectural style that could serve it. He promoted the Academy's exhibitions in "History of Russian Art" (1909) and "History of Architecture" (1911), as vigorously as he did his Art Nouveau shows. Fomin was an outspoken advocate for building preservation, leading a campaign against the conversion of historical mansions into rental apartment buildings.

In 1918 Fomin trained a new generation of architects at VKhUTEMAS/VKhuTEIN, at the same time developing his own concept of "proletarian classicism". He asserted that a "universal architecture" must borrow essential principles from classicism, but the details of classicism are not important. As a result, the "new architectural order" can be simplified to a laconic set of basic elements, not bound by strict proportions. In practice, like all theories, it worked for good architects (like Fomin himself) but could not help mediocre imitators.

In 1929, Fomin relocates to Moscow. Here, he completes the Dynamo building, an experiment halfway between modern art and his own neoclassicism. The building, using steel frame and concrete slab floors, looks like an industrial object, but the paired columns, Fomin's trademark, give away its classical origin.Accorging to Selim Khan-Magomedov, Fomin was one of two forerunners of so-called postconstructivism, an early stage of Stalinist architecture (the other was Ilya Golosov). Postconstructivism is defined as "classical shapes without classical details", an attempt to reinvent new styling to replace classical order.Fomin took part in all major architectural contests of his time: *1932-34 Kursky Rail Terminal*1932-33 Palace of Soviets
*1934 Narkomtiazhprom
*1934 Moscow Metro first stage. He did win and completed one of the Metro jobs, the Krasniye Vorota ("Red Gates") against former constructivist Ilya Golosov. This station opened to public in 1935, while Fomin was alive. He designed one more station, Teatralnaya (then "Ploschad Sverdlova"), which was completed two years after his death.The Palace of Soviets was won by Boris Iofan, construction began with enormous publicity but was terminated by German attack of 1941.
His last project on the ground, Government of Ukraine building in Kiev, was approved for construction in 1934.

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St. Petersburg, Russia
ziggurat, September 11th, 2011
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