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Konstantin Melnikov and the Architecture in Moscow



"Konstantin S. Melnikov, in his numerous buildings and projects, demonstrated a rare freedom and genius that stands as an alternative to the sterile and main stream of International Style modernism.

But he was much more than this. In his visionary views on the relation of architecture and life, in his metaphysical approach to design and building, he called architecture back to ideals that thrived in the ages of the baroque and neo-classicism but which died out in our own century. One can only hope that this deeper vision, which animated the life and work of that pale and ascetic old man whom I met back in 1967, will find a more sympathetic reception in the new millennium.

What twentieth century architect left us a more concentrated and complex legacy than Konstantin Melnikov? His genius took wing at the end of the Russian civil war and was forced to earth again stretching forward to our day.
Yet in spite of many published biographies, monographs and articles devoted to him, Melnikov and his architecture remain terra incognita. This is nearly everything published to date has sought to fit him nearly into the straight jacket of contending schools and factions. True, it is worth knowing how he related to the Constructivists, the Formalists, to Le Corbusier or the International Style. But that brings us only to the starting line, who will carry the search further, and deeper?

Happily, this is precisely what Mario Fosso, Maurizio Merigi and their pan-European team of collaborators have accomplished. Their exciting undertaking begins and ends with the buildings as Melnikov conceived and, when he was fortunate, built them. With an eagle's eye they have ferreted out crucial and neglected aspects of each project, translating them lovingly into models that, together, form one of the most stunning and illuminating exhibitions of architecture of our era."

Frederick Starr (DOMUS, n. 826, May 2000)