VKHUTEMAS – Faculty of painting

Deans: G.V. Fedorov (1920–1921), F.F. Fedorovsky (1921–1922), Shevchenko (1922–1925), R.R. Falk (1925–1927), Gerasimov (1927–1929), Bela Whitz (1929–1930).

At the faculty of painting, the main problems of the university (the struggle for objective teaching methods, for the creation of masterpieces versus art for the mass consumer and others) turned into a struggle for or against easel art. The objectivity of the methodology from 1922–1923 was provided by the connection of the faculty with the Main Course.The Theory of Composition course played an important unifying role, it was given by Favorsky simultaneously for all departments of the faculty. Students were prepared to communicate with the mass audience through theatrical design, monumental art and propaganda work. The latter specialization was more vividly realized in VKHUTEIN –  the last stage of the evolution of the school, it was led by Novitsky, and was embodied in the activities of the October group. 

The faculty consisted of three departments.

Easel painting

At the first stage, the studios of the tutoring painters were a continuation of the individual free studios of the 1st and 2nd Free State Art Studios. Based on the methods of the Main Course, in September 1922 the faculty was reorganized – the system of individual workshops was replaced by a course system in which the tutor gave certain elements of the general program. There was a process of washing out the most leftist and traditionalists. The department as a whole moved in line with the evolution of “tambourines”, moving to an increasingly realistic reliability of forms, while the principle of color painting was preserved as the main one. Over the years, A.E. Arkhipov, Baranov-Rossine, Gerasimov, Drevin, Kandinsky, Kardovsky, Konchalovsky, Kuznetsov, Mashkov, Osmerkin, Falk, Shevchenko, D.P.Shterenberg taught at the department, in addition to painting, the tutors themselves taught drawing.

Stage design and decoration

The department heads were: Kuznetsov (1921–1924), Kuprin (1924–1925), F.F. Kondratov (1925), Shevchenko (1925–1926), I.M. Rabinovich (1926–1930). At first, the department continued the tradition of theatrical decoration of the Stroganov School to a greater extent, later the main focus was the design of festive processions and campaigns. By 1927, the department was renamed “decorative.”

At different times among tutors were A. Vesnin, Kondratov, Konchalovsky, Kuprin, Kuznetsov, Lentulov, Rabinovich, Witz, Fedorov, Fedorovsky, I.S. Fedotov, Shevchenko and others.


The department heads were Mashkov (1920–1924), N.M. Chernyshov (1924–1930). There was a somewhat controversial process of merging the techniques of ancient Russian murals (that were enthusiastically promoted by Chernyshov for research and implementation) with the need to master new forms of art, techniques and materials. Annual trips to old Russian cities played an important role in the upbringing of monumentalist sculptors. That included the research of ancient Russian paintings and the course of restoration. Students worked at real objects during practice and for the preparation of their term papers and dissertations. Famous examples are the collective diploma work on painting the military barracks of F.E. Dzerzhinsky in Moscow (1929), painting of the club “Proletariy” (1930).

The most influential educators in the monumental department at different times were Kuznetsov, Mashkov, Chernyshov. The course “Basic Principles of Architecture” was taught by Dokuchaev, Lissitzky in 1921 taught the course “Architecture and Monumental Painting”, Tabor and Bruni taught drawing.

The faculty had the largest number of graduates compared to others – 545 people.

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