Photos Explore Soviet 'Grand Style'

MOSCOW -- The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography presents Naum Granovsky’s 'Grand Style'. The exhibition encompasses acknowledged works of the photographer and pictures from his numerous trips across the country, previously unseen by the public.

Art collectors of Art Kabinett social media network will appreciate this comprehensive installation of mid-century Soviet photography.

Exploring the legacy of one of the leading architectural photographers of Stalin era, the exhibition traces the development of representation of Soviet cities in photography and revisits Granovsky’s Grand Style from the perspective of modern architecture and photography.

Architectural avant-garde, which spanned from 1918 to 1932, was followed by era of Stalin’s neoclassicism – Grand Style which concluded in 1955, two years after the leader's death. In 1955 the period of contemporary architecture began in its Soviet version.

Beginning in 1931 Moscow’s reconstruction project was approved, and then an ambitious construction program spanning the whole USSR was launched.

New projects constituted a definitive break with constructivism and introduced a new ideal, which invoked not principles of rationalism and functionalism but the state power -- the Grand Style.

By this time, Naum Granovsky has already been working as the chief photographer at publishing house Izogiz, which had photography of architecture and construction, aimed to present a growing and flourishing country, among its priorities. Until the war came Granovsky photographed Moscow a lot.

Politically Connected

It is worth noting that Granovsky’s interest in architectural photography was nurtured by his connection with daughter of the famous Russian writer Vladimir Gilyarovsky Nadezhda Vladimirovna Gilyarovsky, who was working as an editor in Izogiz, and her husband art historian Victor Mikhailovich Lobanov, associate fellow of the Art Academy of the USSR. At this time Granovsky formed his academic, delineated style, which was in tune with country’s cultural policy.

After war as a reporter of news agency Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union (TASS) Granovsky traveled across the USSR (Volgograd, Kiev, Minsk, Smolensk, Vladimir, Kuybishev, Voroneg, Kishinev, Baku, Tbilisi), continuing to photograph his favorite subject Moscow.

High horizon line and viewpoint that enable to show panorama of the city, road receding into the distance, finely calibrated composition are characteristic of Granovsky’s style.

As a reporter of the foremost state-owned agency he had permission to photograph from Moscow’s highest points, inaccessible to ordinary citizens. But the point was not only in high viewpoints. Granovsky could teeter on the thin edge, where a cityscape remains authentic and at the same time embodies the symbol of the city.

Granovsky’s cityscapes seem to be in accordance with an architect’s plan. It is an ideal city, in which accidentalities are erased, only the imperial monumentality remains. Granovsky reveals the structure, emphasizing the perfection of the architectural ensemble. His delineated photographs, taken in numerous cities of the USSR, became evidence that plans of life reorganization came true.

Comprehensive Overview

The exhibition encompasses more than 100 iconic photographs of Naum Granovsky as well as works that have been discovered for the last 5 years. Each work is accompanied by an extensive comment written by architectural historians and urbanists, who were working together on this project.

The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography is located on the territory of the former confectionary factory "Krasnyy Oktiabr". It occupies an old mansion situated on Bolotnaya embankment and its facade looks out over the Moscow River. The idea of the center was taken by the owners of "The Lumiere Brothers Gallery for Photography" Natalia Grigorieva and Edward Litvinskiy.

Today's homepage Featured Art Video offers an overview of the photography of Naum Granovsky.