Best known for the Rusakov Workers’ Club and his own house, Russian architect and painter Konstantin Melnikov (August 3rd, 1890 – November 28th, 1974) has only recently received his due, now more than forty years after his death. He spent much of the twentieth century shunned by the Soviet architectural establishment, having refused to capitulate to the increasingly conformist (and classicist) prescriptions of Stalinism. As a result, he was forced to end his career only a decade after it started, returning to his other avocation as a painter and leaving in his wake only a precious few completed works. Initially educated in the ideologies and languages of neoclassicism, Melnikov’s confinement to historicisms did not last long. The young architect quickly found himself pushing the boundaries of a nascent avant-garde, spurred by political upheaval and Lenin's cultural revolution. With his first major commission, the angular Soviet Pavilion at the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, Melnikov inaugurated a number of ideas that would resurface and mature in later projects: dynamic and composite volumes, sloping roofs (to counter the burgeoning European modernism), and a restless energy that seemed to embody the ethos of early Soviet society.
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