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Vesnin Brothers

Moscow, Russia
1 of 2
Alexander Vesnin, the youngest and most active of the brothers

The Vesnin brothers Leonid Vesnin, Viktor Vesnin and Alexander Vesnin (1883-1959) were the leaders of Constructivist architecture, the dominant architectural school of the Soviet Union in the 1920s and early 1930s. Exact estimation of each brother's individual input to their collaborative works remains a matter of dispute and conjecture; nevertheless, historians noted the leading role of Alexander Vesnin in the early constructivist drafts by the Vesnin brothers between 1923 and 1925. Alexander also had the most prominent career outside of architecture, as a stage designer and abstract painter.

The brothers' earliest collaboration in architecture dates back to 1906; their first tangible building was completed in 1910. Between 1910 and 1916 the Moscow-based family firm designed and built a small number of public and private buildings in Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod, stylistically leaning towards neoclassicism. During the Russian Civil War Leonid and Victor concentrated on industrial projects and teaching while Alexander had a successful solo career as theatre stage designer.

In 1922 the three brothers reunited, embraced avant-garde concepts and developed their own vision of modern architecture that emphasized functionality of buildings and modern construction technology. The Vesnin brothers won professional leadership through winning architectural contests of 1922-1925, and activities and publications of the OSA Group chaired by Alexander Vesnin. When the economy recovered from post-war depression, they were rewarded with high-profile real construction projects like the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station and Likhachev Palace of Culture in Moscow.

The death of Leonid Vesnin in 1933 coincided with the government's crackdown on independent art unions and modernist architecture. Victor continued a successful if unremarkable career in industrial architecture and administration of the Union of Soviet Architects, becoming the first President of the Soviet Academy of Architecture (1939-1949). Alexander failed to adjust to the rise of official Stalinist architecture and quietly withdrew from public professional activities.

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Moscow, Russia
  1. Wikipedia
archibald, October 4th, 2011
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