Art A-Z: D – Deineka Aleksandr

Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Deineka (1899, Kursk – 1969, Moscow) – painter, illustrator, sculptor.

After studies at Vkhutemas (Art and technical school), he started his career as illustrator at several journals and author of posters. At the same time he made first steps in panel painting, which was influenced by his experience as illustrator.

His favourite subjects were industrialisation, work and leisure of Soviet people, sport.

Defense of Petrograd, 1927

Monumental forms, expression, dynamics, clarity and brightness of colours are the typical traits of Deineka’s style.

Baseball, 1935

Famous works:

  • Panels for Soviet Pavilion at World Exhibition in Paris, 1937
  • 35 mosaics for Mayakovskaya station, 1938


Learn more about Mayakovskaya station and A.Deineka in the course of our Metro Tour.


Art A-Z: C – Chechulin Dmitry

Dmitry Nikolaevich Chechulin (1901, Shostka – 1981, Moscow) – architect.

Born to a family of workers, he widely supported Revolution of 1917. At the beginning of career worked as decorator at theatre and circus, painted portraits and landscapes, made sculptors.

White House, 1970

After the Great Patriotic War he became senior architect of Moscow (1945 – 1949) and seriously influenced the look of the city. He supported construction of skyscrapers in Moscow (7 sisters), and was one of the authors of famous building on Kotelnicheskaya embankment (1948 – 1953).

Station Komsomolskaya radial (1935)

Chechulin made several projects for Moscow’s Metro and VDNKh (Exhibition of achievements of National Economy). Among the most interesting projects:

  • Metro station Komsomolskaya – radial (1935)
  • Reconstruction of Chaykovskiy Concert Hall (1940)
  • Hotel “Rossiya” (1967 – 1970) (destroyed)
  • Building of government, “White House” (1970)


  • People’s architect of the USSR (1971)
  • Hero of socialistic labour (1976)
  • State award of the USSR (1941, 1949, 1953)

Author of a book “Life and architecture”.


Learn more about Dmitry Chechulin in the course of our Metro Tour.


Art A-Z: B – Bakst Lev

Lev (Leo) Samoilovich Bakst (Rosenberg) (1866, Grodno – 1924, Paris) – painter, illustrator, theatre decorator.

In 1883 – 1887 – student of the Academy of Art (Saint-Petersburg). In 1891 travelled to Europe, made studies in several workshops in Paris.

Decoration for ballet “Scheherazade”, 1916

Bakst was one of members of “Mir Iskusstva” (World of Art) fellowship, in 1899 – 1904 he was main illustrator of its review. In 1909 – 1920 – decorator of Dyagilev’s “Ballets Russes”, worked in Paris since 1911. Since 1914 – academic of Russian Academy of Art.

Baskt was one of few Russian artists of the beginning of XX century, who was more famous abroad than in Russia. His colourful decorations and designs of costumes for Ballets Russes charmed European public.

Design of costume for ballet “Narcissus”, 1911

His style, inspired by Orient, influenced not only theatre, but also fashion, including Paul Poiret, whose bright colours dominated women’s fashion in the end of 1910s and 1920s.

Besides, Bakst painted a lot of portraits, but, unlike his works in theatre, his panel painting is typical for “Mir Iskusstva” members.



Art A-Z: A – Abramtsevo Circle

(Art A-Z is a dictionary of Russian art)

Abramtsevo circle – fellowship of outstanding Russian artists (painters, sculptors, architects) emerged in mid 1870s in Abramtsevo, estate owned by famous philanthropist Savva Mamontov.

Rich entrepreneur Savva Mamontov bought Abramtsevo, situated not far from Moscow, in 1870, the estate was previously owned by a family of Russian writer, Aksakov.

Mamontov was connoisseur of art and financially supported a lot of artists, including prominent Russian singer Fedor Shalyapin.

In Abramtsevo, Mamontov gathered painters Viktor Vasnetsov, Vasiliy Polenov, Ilya Repin, Mikhail Vrubel, Valentin Serov, Mikhail Nesterov, scultptor Mark Antokolsiy and others. The fellowship did not have any charter or programme and was inspired by Russian history, folklore and fairy tales.

The group’s aesthetics was influenced by modern, symbolism and neo-Russian style, although  each representative had his own particular style.

мамонтов и ко
Left to right – Surikov (seating), Repin, Mamontov (at the piano), Korovin, Serov, Antokolskiy

Mamontov also paid attention to applied arts and created a ceramic workshop in Abramtsevo, which was transferred to Moscow at the beginning of 1900s when the fellowship split up. The workshop was the place where a lot of decorative panels were made for buildings in Moscow.

Tip 1

You can learn more about Savva Mamontov and some members of Abramtsevo Circle in the course of our Walking Tour.

Tip 2

Abramtsevo is open for visits, it is a very nice place to go in summer.

Inside Melnikov’s Experimental House

Every fan of constructivism in the world recognises cylinder silhouette of the Melnikov’s house, one of the most famous buildings in Moscow. However, very few know how the house looks like inside. Despite peculiar facade, its interior is quite conventional, but the history of the house is still unique.

The sole entrance to the house. Above big window there is caption – “Konstantin Melnikov. Architect”. As you can see, the building is in poor condition, but restoration will be conducted soon.

Architect Konstantin Melnikov moved in here together with his wife Anna, their son and daughter in 1929. His son lived here until his death in 2006. Since then, Konstantin’s descendants fought with the Moscow Museum of Architecture for control over the house, eventually the house was transformed into museum in 2013.

Melnikov was gained right to use a territory in the center of Moscow in 1927. By that time he had already executed several projects that brought him fame, including Soviet pavilion at the Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Paris in 1925 and sarcophagus for Lenin’s body. He had a lot of orders and was able to build the house using his own money.


The initial project comprised an edifice composed of two cylinders, which were same in size. But in the process of construction, the foundation of previous house was found, that is why the author had to make one cylinder taller than the other one. Melnikov chose the form of cylinder because it helped to use less material than for a standard regular construction.

The interesting fact is fact the author organised the territory basing on principles of Russian manor – the house is in the center of it, and not on the red line of the street, from the side of the street there are two gates and behind the building there is a yard (the funny thing is that since Peter the Great the administration of the city fought to make dwellers build their houses on the red line, and only in Soviet time the problem was solved).

The building has three floors with kitchen, dining room, bath room, wardrobe on the first floor, living room and bed room on the second floor and architect’s workshop on the third floor.

Dining room

The first floor seems a little bit dark and its interior has acute contrast with the exterior. As you can see in the photo, the dining room’s furniture dates back to the beginning of the XXth century. The chair with letter “K” belonged to Konstantin Melnikov, embroidery was made by his wife Anna (her chair with letter A is opposite her husband’s)

Kitchen – view of a cooler

Near the dining room there is a kitchen, in the photo you can see an interesting detail – a cooler that was made out of a window cut. In fact, the very structure of the building looks like grid, Melnikov didn’t cut the windows, he filled open spaces with remained material instead. Even today, some new “window” can theoretically be open. This cooler is a good example of the author’s non-convetional thinking, who not only created outstanding edifice, but elaborated smart menage – he organised heating system, etc.

Living room

On the second floor there is a specious living room with Melnikov’s desk, where he worked when his architectural career declined. In the beginning of the 1930s, a group of architects wanted to create new style, more adapt for young Soviet state than constructivism, which was considered too “formal”. In addition, according to one version, Melnikov had personal conflict with his former student Alabyan, who became apologist of a “new” style. The latter made a lot of efforts to prevent Melnikov from architectural job, and he had to work as professor almost till the end of his life.

The pink carpet on the floor was brought from Belgium and the colour of the walls was picked in order to match the carpet. The small window on the right was cut here because the architect found out that it would open on a church that he liked (today the church is not visible because new building were erected in front of it).

Here you can see how one cylinder overlaps with the other

Next to the living room there is bedroom, which looks completely different in comparison to its original design. Initially, there was no furniture in the room except podium which served as bed (the children also slept here, their beds were separated by a curtain). The emptiness is explained by Melnikov theory of sleep – he thought that in order to sleep well it was necessary to rule out any element of distraction, for example, family members read in other rooms (children had special study rooms on the first floor), and that is why there was even no lighting. However, there are so many windows, which open on three sides, so it was difficult to fall asleep. Later, under Anna’s influence the bedroom took more traditional forms – she brought here the furniture that she had before marriage, and Konstantin slept in the living room.

Bedroom. Anna’s bed. The room was repainted in the 1990s, originally the colour was more golden
Anna’s toilet table

The last floor is occupied entirely by Melnikov’s workshop, where his son Viktor, who was a painter, also worked.

The house was designed as experimental, meaning that it could become example for other architect’s workshops, but up to date there is no similar building in Moscow and in the whole world.

This is the brightest room in the house!

“I never could design anything that would be boring. And I considered uniteresting and boring everything that resembled me things that I’ve already seen”.

Konstantin Melnikov



Anniversary of Tsaritsyno – Nice Way to Spend a Summer Day

Every year, on the 20th of August the Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve celebrates its anniversary. This day in 1775 empress Catherine the Great signed an edict that officially changed the name of the territory that she bought to build a new residence in Moscow to “Tsaritsyno” (literally – “belonging to tsaritsa” – analogue of status of empress in Russia).

Today you can visit all exhibitions and buildings for free. Master classes and concerts are also a part of the programme. The celebration culminates by tasting of a huge cake.

Master-class of minuet in the Grand Palace

Architectural complex and beautiful park around it have peculiar history. Buildings of the residence have been initially designed by famous Russian architect Vasily Bazhenov, the author of Pashkov House and other master-pieces. Although the empress approved the design, she didn’t like erected constructions during her visit of the site and ordered to destroy them and elaborate a new design. This was the first time in the history of Russia when a country’s leader issued such an order.

Kitchen house – designed by Bazhenov

The new project was executed by Bazhenov’s former apprentice Matvey Kazakov who seriously redesigned the Grand Palace, which was the main reason of Catherine’s anger. But by the time works were almost finished, the empress died, and her heir Pavel I signed an edict to stop any further works on the site. Tsatitsyno never became Romanov’s official residence.

Restored Grand Palace’s design is a combination of two Kazakov’s varients, it was severely critisized for inacurate restauration
It was a sunny day!

Although the park was a popular leisure attraction of Moscow dweller, constructions gradually ruined.

In the 1980th, decision was made to restore the complex, and in 2007 renewed sight was officially inaugurated.

Statue of Catherine the Great in the Grand Palace