The Modernism of Bourgeois Democracy Against the Historicism of the Socialist Countries by Anna Bronovitskaya


From 17 December 2015




Garage Education Center


The postwar period was marked by a fundamental rupture between the architectures of the West and the socialist bloc. As modernism flourished in the United States, architecture of totalitarian ideologies developed in opposition to it in the East.

Everything changed after the Second World War. In the confrontation between the “free world” and the countries of the socialist camp, the role of ideological weapon was assigned to art and architecture. The USSR imposed the principles of Socialist Realism, whereas in the West the standards of Modernist architecture (simple forms, mutually permeable spaces, transparency and "honest" materials) were identified with the values of democracy. The emigration of a number of major European architects, including Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe, contributed to the bloom of modern architecture in the United States. They not only practiced there but also taught, thus shaping a new generation of American architects. After the war, the United States took the leading role in the Western world, pushing their weakened allies in the desired direction and tightly controlling the process of Germany’s recovery. The confrontation between the two systems was vividly expressed in the reconstruction of East and West Berlin.


Anna Bronovitskaya is an architectural historian, director of research at Moscow’s Institute of Modernism, and associate professor at MARCHI (Moscow Architectural Institute, State Academy). In 2015 she became one of the founders of the Institute of Modernism—an independent institution that researches Soviet architecture of the 1960s to 1980s. Since 1993, she has been lecturing at MARCHI. From 2011 to 2013, Bronovitskaya was head of the DOCOMOMO Russian section. She is also the author of multiple publications on 20th century architecture.