Leonid Pavlov / 1909-1990

сentenary exhibition, 2010

Exhibition in the main enfilade of the Museum of Architecture, commemorating the 100th anniversary of birth of architect Pavlov. The models of all the major structures were constructed anew; thin steel frames hold all the exhibits: architectural projects and paintings. The exhibition is arranged thematically rather than chronologically.

Anna Bronovitskaya

“The exhibition is dedicated to Leonid Pavlov, to celebrate his centenary. Being born in 1909 was in many ways a determining factor in the architect’s life. He managed to get his education at VKhUTEMAS—VKhUTEIN (he graduated in 1930), but never really got to work as a Constructivist. He did four years of graduate studies at the Academy of Architecture, mastering the intricacies of the language of classical architecture, but he built very little in this style: first, because of the war, and then, the campaign against cosmopolitanism, in which Pavlov came under attack as a disciple of Zholtovsky’s school. The second shift in the aesthetics of Soviet architecture was not as traumatic to him as it was to his older contemporaries: he saw it as a certain liberation. His talent was truly revealed in the 1960–1970s—and it was so powerful that he managed to implement innovative projects even in the darkest years of stagnation.

His works are marked by his distinctive personality, but at the same time, Pavlov seems to be engaged in an ongoing dialogue with the heroes of his youth: Le Corbusier, Alexander Vesnin and, especially, with Ivan Leonidov, with whom he was friends until his death in 1959. In his modernist projects, Pavlov applies the science of proportions that he studied at the Academy of Architecture, under Ivan Vladislavovich Zholtovsky. Finally, in the works of the second half of the 1970–1980s, the historical forms he learned at the Academy when “mastering the classics” are once again in demand. Interestingly enough, Pavlov uses all the twists and turns of history to his advantage, finding an adequate response to every challenge of time, melting together his experience into the polyphony (to use an expression of his older contemporary Mikhail Bakhtin) of his works.

Although the nature of the anniversary exhibition calls for a chronological arrangement of the material, the exposition in the enfilade of the Museum of Architecture is organized thematically. The introductory hall, dedicated to the biographical documents, is followed by the sections Theatre, Housing, Transport, Information, and Memory, which reflect the most important themes in his work. This publication features the implemented objects falling into the last three themes, as well as memoirs and analytical articles. We also took the opportunity to publish three texts on architecture by Leonid Nikolayevich himself, presenting both a key to his work and instructions for the future generations of architects.

It seems that Pavlov’s main quality as an artist was independence. His famous “extreme maxims”—a creative manifesto of sorts—are, in essence, a rejection of conventional limitations and the usual doctrines. Architecture is not functional, not finite, not scaled, not material,—he argues polemically. And, suddenly, a double negative in the series: “architecture is not apolitical”; it always solves certain social issues. Recognizing that the architect depends on the needs of the society in which he operates, Pavlov carefully selected the pressing matters that allowed to create a new and convincing artistic image. To him, that was the architect’s main task. And that is how he has gone down in history.”

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LOCATION Museum of Architecture, Moscow, Russia


YEAR 2010

STATUS completed

PROGRAM exhibition

TEAM A. Pavlova

S. Rastorguev

CURATOR A. Bronovitskaya

PHOTO Y. Palmin