Standing tall, proud and dominant, the buildings and statues of the Soviet Union are beautiful, brutal and brash. They send a message, one of strength and unity, delivered with shear scale or symbolism and often a combination of both.
Soviet architectural design and styles vary, mainly between a form of Art Deco, also referred to as Stalinist, to raw Brutalism.
The images above and the one below are of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the building and its design reflects how important the sciences were to the Soviet Union.
My original intent was to embark on a project to photograph Soviet statues and architecture, I soon came to realise that to do it justice I needed to expand it to three separate projects, Soviet architecture, Soviet statues and symbolism and the Moscow metro. So this blog is just an overview of what is to come.
The monument to the conquerors of space, 351 feet tall, made from titanium the rocket sits on an obelisk that resembles exhaust fumes.
It’s an impressive structure and houses a museum at its base.
This is one of my favourite statues in Moscow, it depicts everything that was the USSR. It was sculpted by Vera Mukhina. Called “The worker and collective farm girl” It was first exhibited on the Soviet pavilion at the Paris world fair in 1937. The sculpture is 24 meters tall and weighs 75 tons, it is made from stainless steel. The worker is holding a hammer, which symbolises industry, the farm girl holds a sickle symbolising agriculture, together the hammer and sickle represent class solidarity.
An example of Soviet brutalist architecture. Made from prefabricated concrete blocks placed onto a steel structure.
A great place to see Soviet and Communist symbols is in Moscow’s metro system. On display in the ceiling within the main entrance to Smolenskaya metro station is this Hammer and Sickle motif, which is encompassed within a circle of wheat. Wheat is a very prominent symbol in Communism, it symbolises peasantry, the proletariat.
This is Mayakovskaya metro station, it’s a stunning example of the Stalinist style, it was opened in 1938. Located 33 meters underground, during WW2 it was used as a command post for Moscow’s anti-aircraft regiment. Stalin also used it as an air raid shelter.
This blog is just scratching the surface, as I explained earlier, one project has now expanded into three. I hope you enjoyed this and please feel free to ask any questions, I’ll be happy to reply and answer if I can.