Avant-Garde as Method: VKhUTEMAS and the Pedagogy of Space, 1920–1930
March 25, 2021 6:30pm - March 25, 2021 7:30pm
On Thursday, March 25, we invite you to a virtual talk by Soviet design scholar and architect Anna Bokov. The mass character of early twentieth-century design education in Soviet Russia was
On Thursday, March 25, we invite you to a virtual talk by Soviet design scholar and architect Anna Bokov.
The mass character of early twentieth-century design education in Soviet Russia was an essential condition for the modernist paradigm. The Higher Art and Technical Studios, known by their Russian abbreviation VKhUTEMAS, aimed to translate contemporary scientific knowledge and abstract visual language into modern design pedagogy, adopting the so-called “objective method” to facilitate instruction on a mass scale. This lecture examines the mass educational model introduced at VKhUTEMAS in the 1920s and aims to recast the contributions of this avant-garde school in the fields of art, architecture, and design after a century of obscurity.
Similar to the Bauhaus, VKhUTEMAS articulated the ideals of the avant-garde into a coherent body of knowledge that could be taught as a design curriculum. The lecture will shed new light on this interdisciplinary institution that, while still obscure today, contributed in many critical ways to shaping the early decades of modernism: in its visionary pedagogical methods, in bringing together some of the most significant protagonists of the modern era, and, ultimately, in its teachers’ and students’ work in real-world spaces and everyday objects.
Anna Bokov is an architect, historian, and educator. She holds a PhD from Yale University, a master’s degree in architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design, and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Syracuse University. She is a resident member of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She has taught at the Cooper Union, Parsons, Cornell University, Yale School of Architecture, Harvard GSD, and the Moscow Architectural Institute. Anna has worked as an architect, urban designer, and researcher with OMA, Herzog & de Meuron, NBBJ, Ennead, and the City of Somerville. Her work has been published by The Journal of Architecture, Perspecta, Walker Art Center Primer, MoMA Post, Venice Biennale, Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, and Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. Her book Avant-Garde as Method: Vkhutemas and the Pedagogy of Space, 1920–1930 (Park Books, 2020) is dedicated to the Russian counterpart of the Bauhaus.