VKHUTEMAS – Faculty of metalwork

In 1920-1922 the faculty was called metallurgical.

Deans were F. Mishukov (1920–1921), S.Konstantinov (1922), Rodchenko (1923–1926).

The faculty of metalwork arose as a result of the merger of several studios of the Stroganov School, preserved as part of the 1st State Agricultural School, in which various metalwork processes were carried out: mounting, chasing, casting, filigree metalwork. At the first stage, which coincided with the introduction of The New Economic Policy, the activities of the faculty continued as traditional training in crafts and the creation of applied products.

The Declaration of the Metalwork Faculty already defined the designer essence of future graduates’ activity – creation of “proto image” of the form for its multiplying in the machine industry, highlighting the “visual culture” that “Metallist” artists were carrying and conducting.

In 1923, the commission of the People’s Commissariat of Enlightenment for checking the activities of Vkhutemas noted the absence of curricula and programs, as well as “a unified approach to resolving the tasks set for production faculties.” The People’s Commissariat of Enlightenment demanded “the closest connection of the Main Department with special faculties.”These requirements coincided with the initiative of the group of teachers of the Main Department to create a design education in Vkhutemas based on the ideas of constructivism. The consequence of this was Rodchenko’s transition to the metallurgical faculty, which, in connection with the termination of the Institute of Artistic Culture activities in 1923, became a kind of coordinating center for the theory and methodology of production art in general. In 1922-1924, Rodchenko developed the curriculum of metalwork faculty that included a program of a general cycle of professional knowledge and skills (proportions of technical forms, combinatorics etc.) and implied two departments – constructive and artistic metal processing. However, due to the small number of students, the division into two specializations had to be canceled.

Technical subjects at the faculty were taught under the supervision of engineer S.G. Malishevsky. The disciplines of metal processing were led by S.Z.Konstantinov (engraving on steel), V.D.Sokolov, S.A. Fedotov.

VKHUTEMAS – Woodwork faculty

Deans: G.N. Rychkov (1920–1922), Kiselev (1922–1924), B.E. Thomson (1923–1924), V.A. Petrov (1924–1925), Y. Miloslavsky (1926).

The formation of the woodwork faculty from the workshops of the 1st Free State Art Studios is close to the process that took place at the metalwork faculty.

Continuing the line of development of Free State Art Studios, the faculty was engaged in the design of furniture and decorative processing of wood, which became the main direction of the woodwork faculty. In 1922 new principles of teaching at the faculty were introduced in connection with the transition of tutors of the Main Course Kiselyov and Lavinsky to the faculty. They brought the ideas of constructivism. Moreover, while Kiselev calmly entered the work of the faculty, conflicts arose around Lavinsky. He was reproached for lack of knowledge of production issues. A new revival began at the faculty with the arrival of Lisitsky in 1926 and Tatlin in 1927. Lisitsky subtly combined the practical and artistic functions of the form in his programs and assignments. Tatlin developed the course “Culture of Material,” which nurtured a sense of figurative expressiveness of the material itself as opposed to the abstract geometrism of constructivists.

At different times among faculty tutors were: I. Varentsov, Kiselev, N. Kurzhunov, Lavinsky, Petrov and others.

VKHUTEMAS – Faculty of Wood and Metal works

In 1926 the faculty of metal works and the woodwork faculty were combined into the faculty of wood and metal works (1926-1930).

Deans: Rodchenko (1926), Y. Miloslavsky (1926-1929), K. Roder (1929-1930).

Each department had two chairs: woodworking (head Roder), furniture designing and artistic design of interiors (Lissitzky); metalworking (S.Malishevsky), artistic design of metal equipment and fittings (Rodchenko).

Konstantinov, Lakhtin, Lissitzky, Rodchenko, Roder, Rychkov, Tatlin, S. Chernyshev and others worked at the faculty.

Outstanding masters of the avant-garde Rodchenko, Lisitsky, Tatlin formed a creative design consciousness adequate to the realities of the twentieth century in their students, in opposition, on the one hand, to criticism from the artists – in “non-artisticism” and, on the other hand, criticism of narrow technical specialists – in a passion for “art”. The educational works of the two faculties were highly appreciated at the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Paris in 1925.

During the years of work from 1927 to 1930 faculty has let out 50 engineers-artists on wood and metal processing.

(On the materials of article by N. Adaskina VKHUTEMAS-VKHUTEIN // Encyclopedia of Russian avant-garde fine art architecture, volume III history. Theory, Book 1. – P.102-111).