VKHUTEMAS (1920-1927)

VKHUTEMAS (Higher Art and Technical Studios) – internationally acclaimed architectural and art school of the avant-garde era. Together with the German Bauhaus school VKHUTEMAS formed the foundations of world architecture and design of the twentieth century.

It was formed in 1920 in Moscow by consolidation of the First and the Second Free State Art Studios (1st and 2nd SGKHM, created during The First Creative Education Reform and based on the Stroganov Academy of Industrial and Applied Arts and the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture) located in two buildings belonging to schools: on Rozhdestvenka street (currently the Moscow Institute of Architecture) and on Myasnitskaya street (currently Russian Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture named after I. Glazunov).

VKHUTEMAS creation was a result of the Second Reform of Artistic Education, that was carried out by the Council of People’s Commissars for Education since july 1920. According to Council’s decree of 18.12.1920 VKHUTEMAS had a purpose “to prepare master artists of the highest qualifications for industry”. Professionals in all areas and types of art, architecture and design studied here: painters, sculptors and graphic artists, architects and stage designers, ceramists, textile designers, designers of furniture and designers of interior for residential and public buildings.

The stages of school development are related to the names of three rectors:

E. Ravdel (since 1920)

V. Favorsky (since 1923)

P. Novitsky (since 1926)


among VKHUTEMAS tutors were the the greatest masters of Soviet art


Starting from the first academic year (1920) eight faculties were formed in the structure of VKHUTEMAS: architecture, painting, sculpture,polygraphy, textile, ceramics and a faculty of woodwork and metalwork.

The studios were searching for objective scientific foundations of art education of a wide range, and developed the propaedeutic disciplines on the basis of unique innovative techniques:

  1. Ladovsky – discipline “Space” (Architecture);
  2. Rodchenko – “A graphic construction on a plane surface” and A. Vesnin, L. Popova – “Color” (Painting);
  3. Korolev, A. Lavinskii – “Volume” (Sculpture)

The architectural faculty had two departments: 

The structure of the painting faculty consisted of three departments:

  • easel graphic works
  • theatrical decoration
  • monumental painting.

The graduates of the sculpture faculty were qualified in the field of:

  • monumental sculpture
  • decorative sculpture
  • portrait sculpture

Great attention was paid to the practical side of training at industrial faculties. Art construction (design) was formulated as the basic principles of a new type of creative activity.

An important event for VKHUTEMAS was the participation in the World Exhibition in Paris in the summer of 1925, the best students works of architectural faculty and faculties of woodwork and metalwork were demonstrated there. VKHUTEMAS also received the Grand Prix for the presented innovative course in propaedeutic disciplines.


The International Exhibition of Modern Architecture in VKHUTEMAS in August 1927 was an important event for VKHUTEMAS and the architectural community. Rector Novitsky organized the exhibition.

In September 1927 VKHUTEMAS was renamed VKHUTEIN (Higher Art and Technical Institute). As a result, the restructuring was to intensify the institute´s orientation toward training for the wood and metalworking industry, ceramic and textile production, and printing.

VKHUTEIN was disestablished in the autumn of 1930.

The faculty of architecture and the architectural department of the Moscow Higher Technical School (MVTU) formed the Institute of Architecture and Civil Engineering (ASI). Then it transformed into Moscow Architectural Institute (MAI) since 1930, and then it became MARKHI since 1970).

The faculties of painting and sculpture were combined with the corresponding faculties of the Leningrad VKHUTEIN into the Institute of Proletarian Fine Art.

Industrial faculties were transferred to Moscow engineering universities.

The faculty of polygraphy was combined with polygraphy faculty of VKHUTEIN in  Leningrad, forming the art department of the Moscow Polygraphic Institute.

The textile faculty became the art department of the newly created Textile Institute (now the Russian State University named after A. Kosygin).

With the reconstruction of the Stroganov School (1945), the specialists training was revived in the field of design, interior, and applied art (now the Moscow State Stroganov Academy of Industrial and Applied Arts).

Leading art universities in Russia inherited the pedagogical system developed at VKHUTEMAS.


At present, academic works of  VKHUTEMAS students are evaluated on a par with the works of the Russian avant-garde artists, and they are located:

in the collection of the largest Russian art museumsthe Pushkin Museum, the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Museum of Architecture named after Shchusev;

in the collection of university museumsMARKHI, the Russian State University named after A. Kosygin, the Moscow State Stroganov Academy of Industrial and Applied Arts;

abroadthe Getty Museum (Los Angeles), the Museum Ludwig (Cologne), the Pompidou Center (Paris), the Canadian Centre for Architecture (Montreal).

Information was compiled by: L. Ivanova-Veen, A. Lavrentiev