The Lost Vanguard: Russian Modernist Architecture, 1922-32 at Chicago’s Graham Foundation

The Graham Foundation in Chicago presents The Lost Vanguard: Russian Modernist Architecture, 1922-32, an exhibition documenting the work of Modernist architects in the Soviet Union in the years following the 1917 revolution and the period of instability during the subsequent civil war. In little more than a decade, some of the most radical buildings of the 20th century were completed by a small group of architects who developed a new architectural language in support of social goals of communal life. Rarely published and virtually inaccessible until the collapse of the Soviet regime, these important buildings have remained unknown and unappreciated. Installed throughout all three floors of the Graham Foundation’s Madlener House, the exhibition consists of over 80 large-scale photographs of Soviet structures from the first revolutionary period documented by British photographer Richard Pare as he found them during extensive visits between 1992–2010.

The structures featured in the exhibition are located in a wide territory spanning the old Soviet Union that includes Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Georgia, and Russia, and were drawn from an archive of about 15,000 photographs taken by Pare. Selections from this body of work were first exhibited at the Ruina, an annex of the Shchusev State Museum of Architecture (MUAR) in Moscow. An expanded version of the exhibition was shown at the Museum of Modern Art, New York organized by Barry Bergdoll, with guest curator Jean-Louis Cohen. At the State Museum of Contemporary Art (SMCA) in Thessaloniki, Greece the photographs were presented with works from the George Costakis collection and were later included in another series of exhibitions, Building the Revolution: Soviet Art and Architecture, 1915-1935, organized by MaryAnne Stevens at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Building the Revolution traveled to La Caixa Forum in Madrid and Barcelona, the Royal Academy, and most recently to the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin. The exhibition in Chicago will be the first presentation of the work in the United States outside of New York.

Richard Pare was born in England in 1948 and studied photography and graphic design in Winchester and at Ravensbourne College of Art before moving to the United States in 1971. Pare graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1973. He was curator of the Seagram photography collection from 1974 until 1985 and was the founding curator for the photography collection of the Canadian Centre for Architecture from its inception in 1974 until he became a consultant to the collection in 1989—a role he continues to fulfill. His works have been exhibited widely and he is represented in many of the major public collections of photography. His numerous seminal exhibitions and publications include Court House: A Photographic Document (1978), Photography and Architecture: 1839-1939 (1982), and Tadao Ando: The Colors of Light (1996), which received the AIA monograph award. The Lost Vanguard: Architecture of the Russian Avant-garde, 1922-1932 was published in 2007. Building the Revolution was published in 2011. He is presently completing a new series of images on the works of Le Corbusier for the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, the first exhibition on the architect in Russia.

The Lost Vanguard: Architecture of the Russian Avant-garde, 1922-1932 runs from October 11, 2012 until February 16, 2013.

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