Vkhutemas


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Vkhutemas

 

(State Higher Arts and Technical Studios), an educational institution in Moscow. Vkhutemas was founded in 1920 by decree of the Soviet government as “a special artistic higher technical and industrial educational institution for training highly qualified master artists for industry as well as designers and directors for trade and technical schools” (Collected Laws and Regulations of the Government of Workers and Peasants, Dec. 19, 1920, no. 98, art. 522, p. 540). It was formed by merging the first and second Moscow Free Art Studios. It included an art department (painting, sculpture, and architecture) and an industrial department (printing, textile, ceramics, woodworking, and metalworking). Actually, Vkhutemas’ main function was to train easel painters and architects. At the same time, the industrial departments were given the task of training new kinds of artists, able to work with the traditional forms of plastic arts and to create the entire environment of objects surrounding men, including objects of everyday life and work tools.

Vkhutemas and the educational, architectural, and artistic Bauhaus association in Germany were the first in the world to create the principles of a system that evolved later for training artist-designers. An important part of the new teaching method was the introductory (preliminary) course. Developed in Vkhutemas, it was compulsory for all students, regardless of their future specialty, and based on a combination of scientific and artistic disciplines. The introductory course was designed to teach the students the language of plastic art forms and the laws of the formation of shapes and colors (including drawing as the basis of plastic arts, as well as color study, disciplines investigating the relationships of color and form, and the study of the principles of construction of spatial composition). The creators of the course—V. A. Favorskii, P. la. Pavlinov, K. N. Istomin, I. M. Chaikov, N. A. Ladovskii, and others—believed that the laws of the formation of shapes and colors applied equally to the fine arts and the artistic designing of objects for everyday use and for use in technology. The introductory courses later became compulsory throughout the world in training artist-designers.

Thorough training in the introductory course was combined with subsequent specialization in departments of the student’s choice. In industrial departments plans for convertible furniture (armchair-beds, closet-tables, and so forth), dishes for mass production, lamps, and other goods were developed. Among the Vkhutemas instructors were easel painters, who continuted the traditions of the Russian art school of the prerevolutionary decades (primarily the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture—A. E. Arkhipov, P. V. Kuznetsov, I. I. Mashkov, and others—as well as D. N. Kardovskii, who taught at the Higher Art School of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts from 1903 to 1918). There were also representatives of industrial art, including A. M. Rodchenko and V. E. Tallin.

The industrial departments put into practice the theoretical views of the “industrialists,” who identified artistic creation with the production of socially and functionally useful things. In their opinion, these things should determine the character of the entire everyday environment in a socialist society. Such identification led a number of Vkhutemas instructors to deny in their teaching in various departments the imaginative nature and cognitive role of art and to repudiate art’s traditional (chiefly its easel) forms. (They did this primarily in journalistic articles.)

On Feb. 25, 1921, V. I. Lenin visited the Vkhutemas residential quarters, chatted with the students about study and art, and made critical comments on the futuristic enthusiasm of some of them. In 1926, Vkhutemas was reorganized into Vkhutein (State Higher Institute of Art and Technology).

REFERENCES

Arkhitektura: Raboty arkhitekturnogo fakul’teta Vkhutemasa. Moscow, 1927.
Abramova, A. “Nasledie Vkhutemasa.” Dekorativnoe isskustvo SSSR, 1964, no. 4.
Krupskaia, N. K. O Lenine: Sbornik statei i vystuplenii. [Moscow, 1965.] Page 95.
Marts, L. “Propedevticheskii kurs Vkhutemasa-Vkhuteina.” Tekhnicheskaia estetika, 1968, nos. 2, 4, 12; 1969, no. 4.
Zhadova, L. “Vkhutemas-Vkhutein.” Dekorativnoe iskusstvo SSSR, 1970, no. 11.
Khazanova, V. “Vkhutemas-Vkhutein.” AD, 1970, Feb., 7/6, pp. 80-81.

L. V. MARTS

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