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Monument to the Third International | Vladimir Tatlin

March 11, 2010

The Monument to the Third International was a grand un-built monumental building. It was planned to be erected in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, as the headquarters and monument of the Comintern (the third international).

Nikolay Punin, a contemporary critic of Tatlin, provides an excellent description of the Monument:

“The monument consists of three great rooms of glass, erected with the help of a complicated system of vertical pillars and spirals. These rooms are placed on top of each other and have different, harmonically corresponding forms. They are able to move at different speeds by means of a special mechanism. The lower storey, which is in the form of a cube, rotates on it’s axis at the speed of one revolution per year. This is intended for legislative assemblies. The next storey, which is in the form of a pyramid, rotates on its axis at the rate of one revolution per month. Here the executive bodies are to meet (the International Executive Committee, the Secretariat and other executive administrative bodies). Finally, the uppermost cylinder which rotates at the speed of one revolution per day is reserved for information services: an information office, a newspaper, the issuing of proclamations, pamphlets and manifestos – in short, all the means for informing the international proletariat; it will also have a telegraphic office and an apparatus that can project slogans on to a large screen. These can be fitted around the axes of the hemisphere. Radio masts will rise up over the monument. It should be emphasised that Tatlin’s proposal provides for walls with a vacuum which will help to keep the temperature in the various rooms constant.”

This utopian design, in theory, was designed to be taller than that great symbol of modernity, the Eiffel Tower. A small wooden model of the tower was exhibited in Petrograd and Moscow in December 1920 amid debate on its suitability for the purpose. Mayakovsky welcomed the project as ‘the first monument without a beard’, a comment reflecting that many of the monuments made under the Plan have been statues of Lenin. But others, such as Lisitsky and Gabo were critical. Trotsky was also dismissive of the project, calling it impractical and romantic. By 1921, the changing economic climate and the fact that nothing proceeded with the project beyond the model may indicate that Party authorities started to dislike the constructivist style of design and ‘left’ artistic activity in general.

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There has been written a lot about Tatlin’s tower, so we just wanted to make a visual review and recommend some interesting reading for this post:

- Vladimir Tatlin’s Monument to the 3rd International

- Drawing with sketch-up, here

- Architectural analysis PDF

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