Title: MONUMENT TO THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL
Author: Vladimir Tatlin
Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia (never built)
Year complete: never built
Description: a twin helix structure built of iron, glass, and steel – 400 m (1300 ft) tall
The Monument to the Third International was the design of painter and Russian constructivist Vladimir Tatlin. In 1917, during the Bolshevik Revolution Tatlin had the idea of a monument dedicated to the new and what he saw as improved Russia. The Bolshevik Revolution saw the end of the Tsarist autocracy and the beginning of rule by the working class, led by Vladimir Lenin. In this revolution, the old neoclassical architecture and monuments were seen as outdated and representative of a different time. With this idea in mind Russian constructivists, including Vladimir Tatlin, looked toward modernism to create for the new state of Russia.
The revolution gave way to the civil war, where ideas of a global communist party took hold in the eyes of many Russian constructivists, especially Tatlin. The Third International, or the Communist International as it was often called, was founded by Vladimir Lenin in an attempt to make the communist revolution global. For their headquarters they held a competition, where Tatlin designed the Monument to the Third International.
The Monument to the Third International or Tatlin’s towers was a 400m (1300 ft) tall twin helix structure made of iron, glass, and steel, industrial materials. It was to have a glass cube for administrative spaces that revolved once a year for conferences and congresses, a pyramid, revolving once a month for office space, a cylinder sending propaganda to the global communist party that would revolve once a day, and a glazed hemisphere that housed radio studios and transmitters at the top. The location was to be Saint Petersburg, Russia, a window to the western world and modernity.
“The monument is made of iron, glass and revolution … Here for the first time iron is standing on its hind legs and seeking its artistic formula”
Unfortunately, the tower was never built due to the fact that post-civil war Russia did not have the funds for astronomical amounts of steel the tower would need. The feasibility of the rotating structures in the tower was also questioned. Ultimately, the idea also faded away after the Russian civil war, which in turn, looked back to neoclassical architecture to make a statement. The Monument to the Third International, though never built, was as much a monument to modernism and the future, as a monument to the global communist party.