History of National Borrowings Automatic translate
Who determines the architectural trends - the culture of the people or the tastes of the elite, why do Russians build five-domed churches on pillars and does Russian architecture look like a forest? The Russian Culture Research Center continues a series of collective interviews with experts. Alexei Firsov, Dmitry Lisitsin, Yuri Balushkin, Alexei Serditov and Natalya Grib talk about what Russian in architecture is with an art historian, lecturer at the HSE Lev Masiel Sanchez .
Material prepared by the project
Center for Russian Culture Studies
D. Lisitsin: What, in your opinion, defines the face of our architecture exactly as Russian?
- I think that there is not a single national architecture whose face would be defined forever, because everything always develops and changes. To me, various civilizational theories that postulate the presence of a certain unchanged core or, say, a “code” seem unreasonable. Civilizations are constantly changing both in time and in space, it is often very difficult to understand where one ends and the other begins.
Modern civilizations were born mainly at the turn of antiquity and the Middle Ages. The only one that arose in a more ancient era is China. There, it seems to me, there is an obvious continuity of language and culture, there is no clear break. In India, the gap associated with the Muslim conquest is palpable. Civilizations of South India and Southeast Asia are formed in the early Middle Ages. There is an ancient Greco-Roman civilization, the Roman Empire, on the ruins of which there are three new ones: Western European, Byzantine and Islamic. Each of them inherits Rome in its own way, and not one is its unconditional direct continuation. There is a huge demolition, I would say, purely material, when everything flies to smithereens: the population is radically decreasing, countries are getting poorer, languages are forgotten. Even if statehood is maintained, as in the case of the succession of the Roman and Byzantine empires, the language is still lost - Latin is replaced by Greek.
If we undertake to look for national features, it turns out that Russian in one period of time is completely different from what it is in another. We can say how Old Russian architecture differs from Byzantine or any other, but I would not say that these differences will be the same in other periods.
It is important to understand that you can talk about features only when we have a lot of monuments and there is something to compare. When we have no more than a dozen preserved monuments from a whole period, such as from the early Moscow period (first half of the 15th century), then generally it is quite difficult to compare anything. Too little material to generalize, if approached from a scientific point of view.
To summarize the history of Russian architecture, the first thing to do is highlight the pre-Mongol period - about 200 years - in which relatively many were built. I would say that then a provincial version of Byzantine architecture was created, which, first of all, is characterized by an increase in the size of buildings: a large new country requires roomy temples. Our features begin with Sophia of Kiev, this is a temple of unprecedented size for the Byzantium of that time, so it had to be complicated. The average size of the Russian church in the initial period is noticeably larger than that of the modern church in Byzantium.
The Byzantine techniques used at that time were not adapted to blocking vast spaces with a huge dome, as was the case under Justinian in Sofia of Constantinople. Therefore, in Kiev, a large temple had to be cluttered with a bunch of pillars. In addition, bulky brick pillars were used instead of light columns. Instead of a Byzantine structure, where the eye begins to circle around thin marble and immediately sees all the relatively small space, the space in the Russian church is fenced with pillars. After all, we had neither marble nor antique buildings from which it would be possible to break out ready-made columns, as in Byzantium. As a result, a very specific type of Byzantine architecture comes to us - provincial. The column is replaced by an array, a pillar, which completely changes the interior of the temple. You enter the Russian temple and immediately see two pillars, but do not see what is behind them. We will see only the central piece of the altar barrier. The Byzantine temple is immediately visible, it is a psychologically completely different sense of space, which is very important.
The result is a kind of forest. Perhaps one could say that such an image of space turned out to be close to the Russians, because they live in the forest. But such statements can hardly be considered scientific. Obviously, this effect arose from purely practical requirements.
A. Firsov: You are probably very skeptical of the theories and speculation that the soul of the people is reflected in the plastic of various forms. The bulbous style of the domes, reflected, for example, by Trubetskoy, is, as it were, the burning of the Russian soul, candles, the Russian people stretch upward, this is reflected in the dome of the temple. Is such a metaphor alien to you?
- It seems to me that the concept of study, - and I am acting in the scientific field - cannot have any other purpose than to reduce everything to rationality. It should take into account all the moments in the behavior of people, of course, including the irrational. But at the same time, it is not clear how the soul of the people can be defined through architecture. You can determine the taste of those who order the temple. If from time to time they build temples of a certain type, of course, customers like them. Is the soul of the people expressed here? Or is she not expressing herself? Who is the creator of architectural forms? In the narrow sense, it is only the customer, for example, the prince or the head of the monastery. Next is the contractor hired by the customer and who is looking for craftsmen to complete the order. A figure may be present, somewhat reminiscent of an architect, but very often the contractor himself is an “architect”. Then the craftsmen, whom the contractor invited, take on the work. Who is the creator? Whose taste do the buildings express? The position of "Marxist" says that they express the taste of "feudal elite." This point of view arose in the middle of the 19th century and was promoted in Soviet times: there is true, authentic, folk wooden architecture created by simple peasants. And the fact that some Greek bishops or noblemen invented were invented is not entirely Russian. On the other hand, all Russian men go to temples. When they make wooden temples, they try to do the same as the master, prince or bishop. Just because it’s bigger and prettier than what they have. Because the court culture is always a guideline, except for special periods of demolition, when for some reason it is fundamentally rejected; but this is a unique situation of revolutions. Of course, one cannot insist that cognition, the scientific method, is the only way to understand the world around us. But it seems to me that reasoning about the soul of the people and its incarnations is incompatible with the scientific concept of the world.
A. Firsov: I will clarify. In your understanding, what we call Russian architecture are certain transformations of introduced forms under the influence of local circumstances? Not available, for example, antique columns, other construction factors worked?
- It seems to me that everything that is national is always a combination of coincidences. It’s just that some of the introduced buildings are liked and repeated, others are not. In the 16th century, Italians came to Russia and built many different churches, for example, a tent church in Kolomenskoye. Further, apparently, for twenty years no one did anything like this, and then in the Cathedral of the Intercession on the Moat (St. Basil), this was repeated, and then it began to be repeated regularly. I’m used to it.
D. Lisitsin: There is probably another hypostasis of the view that Alexey spoke of. Culture defines a way of thinking that gives rise to certain forms. Maybe they all did not admire this forest, but they reproduced it.
- Human creativity is associated not only with ideas and intentions, but also with work with hands, with many habits. The embodiment of any idea of a person who has grown up in a certain environment will be largely determined by the fact that he is simply used to seeing this. We live in Russia, and as soon as we start not directly copying Palladio, but working in his spirit, we immediately get something Russian, precisely because there is a habit of seeing objects of a different type around. In this sense, of course, there is a national architecture, but not as an expression of a spirit, but as a joint long-term visual experience. If people all their lives see the sun rising and setting low above the forest, if they see dark trunks, then we have the right to say that a certain image may be close to them. Another question is how they understand this image. It is unlikely that they would consciously begin to liken the temple to the forest. But if the pillars in the temple were standing close to each other and in such a space they are not crowded, this is because they have the experience of living in the forest.
A. Firsov: It can be not only a visual experience. They can read the same books, experience general events, etc.
- Yes, it can be an audio experience and so on. But now, when I talk about architecture and art, it is mostly visual.
Y. Balushkin: This is somewhat contrary to your words about the chance occurrence of national architecture. In addition, such tasks as climate, the presence of roads, various building materials, technologies and the like are not taken into account, which, like the peculiarities of the national worldview, is difficult to attribute to random factors.
- When I talked about chance, I had in mind a specific iconographic plot. For example, the fact of the presence of four or six pillars in the temple. One or five domes. Often, as the first builders did, it was reproduced further. Naturally, other factors influence.
A. Serditov: Can one call the customer’s preference a random factor? If I understand Leo correctly, then architecture cannot express the soul of the people, because at that time there were no mechanisms of interaction with the public, no one consulted with it. The maximum that the public could do was not go to the temple if you categorically did not like it, and then it would hardly be decided on this. Rather, architecture now expresses the soul of the people, because there are activists, social movements insisting on their position on architectural issues.
- She expresses today a certain, I would say carefully, opinion of the interested part of society. But then it was the same. I would not say that my theory is elitist, because in principle I do not separate the elite and the people. Suppose different princes build three different temples. Of these, for gathering in a tree, a popular gathering in some village will choose the one that they like. This is where the selection takes place. When we say that the people have a common soul and opinion, we deprive the freedom of will of each of the individual participants in the national gathering. In one village, they can get together and want to like this, and in another they may want to not.
A. Firsov: You say that wooden architecture continues to stone, focusing on it. But if you follow your model, in which the peasants chose one of the three temples, then all subsequent stone ones will not be guided by the trend that has already arisen?
“They will almost certainly never be guided by the trend of wooden architecture.” When a trend appears inside the stone, naturally they will be guided by it. Why would someone who has money to build a mansion focus on a hut?
This could come to mind only from the middle of the 19th century, when a special ideology of folk culture arose. But it seems to me that this theory is not very useful for studying architecture. Not in the sense that there is no folk culture. It’s just that she, on the whole, is also focused on samples of “high culture”, but at the same time she selects something very unexpected each time and transforms it based on her taste. In this sense, it is independent. But she cannot set a high bar and form the same trends as “high culture”.
Simultaneously with the emergence of Slavophilism in Russia, the search for the traditionally popular in France and in Scandinavia begins. This is a pan-European path. There are situations when a new national idea is created. In architecture, this time is modern: the end of the XIX - the beginning of the XX centuries. On the territory of Ukraine there is the so-called Carpathian style - there are not many buildings, but these are great things. When Finland needed to rebuild from Sweden and Russia and create something of their own, they turned to the huts of Karelia, but above all to the images of nature: animals, boulders, fairy-tale characters. An exquisite style arose, which some in Russia scornfully called "Chukhon Art Nouveau", but which at the same time had a noticeable influence on the neo-Russian style. Thus, in the case of Finland, the style was created not so much from architecture as from the image of the country’s nature.
But throughout the Middle Ages, until the 18th century, simpler mechanisms worked. He who is richer builds better, and most importantly - more durable. Why, in fact, a stone? Because it is more durable, it does not decay and does not burn, therefore it has a higher status. I studied Siberia, studied its entire XVIII century in detail. The tree is very gradually and logically replaced by stone. First, the issue of the status object itself is decided - the monastery and city cathedral church. Until they are built, they don’t start to build in stone parishes and in villages in stone. But by the middle of the XIX century in every large village there is already a stone temple.
A. Firsov: We moved too quickly from pre-Mongol time to the 19th century. After all, there was Russian architecture of Muscovite Russia, to which the aforementioned neo-Russian style refers. What is actually Russian in it?
In Russian architecture can be attributed to the type of temple. It is difficult to talk about Russian until the 16th century. The artistic connection between Moscow and Novgorod in the 15th century is small, these are completely different traditions. We can say that there is some kind of Novgorod-Pskov architecture and something that glimmers on the ruins of Vladimir-Suzdal Rus after Batu with a very modest amount of construction. After all, we know almost nothing about the buildings of the central lands of the XIV century. In 1330, for the first time, a stone cathedral was built in Moscow, but nothing remained of it…
But in the next period - the end of the XV and XVI century - there is a main model for the subsequent temple building - a large five-domed cathedral. This is an elite order - the Assumption Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin. The Pskovites were invited to build it, because they were the only ones who then built a lot in stone in Russia. Let me remind you that in the Moscow principality in the middle of the 15th century there was a civil war; accordingly, there was practically no construction in central Russia. But brought by the Pskovites to the vaults, the temple falls apart in front of everyone: they had no experience in building such large buildings.
I had to look for masters in other countries. Thanks to the marriage of Ivan III with Zoya Paleolog, who lived at the papal court, they turn to Italy. They find Aristotle Fioravanti, who is given a special task - to do in Moscow something like the Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir. He creates a very Renaissance temple, in some ways Byzantine, but at the same time similar to the one he was pointed to. The architect, on the one hand, built a building that seemed fashionable and modern to him, pointed to a model and emphasized a certain connection with Byzantium, as I understand it. The temple was so successful that they began to repeat it. The Russian five-domed church became so because the Assumption Cathedral was built this way. And he became so because he was copying the Vladimir Cathedral. No one was interested in whether these five chapters had any symbolism. Why is the Vladimir sample five-headed? Because it was expanded once, and it was necessary to put additional chapters. Prince Vsevolod, who saw how this was done in Byzantium, chose a specific type of five-domed church. And this cathedral was in demand only at the end of the 15th century, 300 years after its completion. And architectural symbolism is usually invented later. Forms come first, then people start to think, but do they mean anything? And legends arise that the main dome is Christ, the side ones are evangelists, or something like that.
Everyone loves to imitate. Make a cottage, like a rich neighbor, make a temple, as in the capital of Byzantium. It is very important in architecture to see precisely this orientation towards a specific building. Not for an idea or symbol, but for a specific image. Moreover, such an image in itself can be symbolic. Moscow Assumption Cathedral is a symbol of Vladimir Assumption Cathedral and, accordingly, a symbol of the sacred connection of Moscow with Vladimir and further with Kiev.
The Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir, was built in two stages - during the reign of Andrei Bogolyubsky in 1158-1160 (with the participation of Romanesque masters, probably Italians) and Vsevolod the Big Nest in 1185-1189.
D. Lisitsin: Your approach to research involves comparing different architectures with each other. In this perspective, is Russian architecture bad or good?
Russian architecture is not bad at all.Of course, she does not pay much attention to details, but this is partly the problem of the fact that until the 19th century it was more than 90% wooden. Architectural details are not very well obtained in a tree - it’s easier instead to make separate carved boards and place them on the building, but these are actually not architectural, but pictorial means. This developed a general lack of attention to detail, which, in principle, is characteristic of many areas of Russian culture. Russians tend to pay much attention to the essence of the phenomenon and have little interest in particulars. Russian architecture is much less inventive than, for example, Italian. But with Italian architecture in general, no other can be compared, especially since its history is much longer.
D. Lisitsin: And what, from your point of view, is the main idea of Russian architecture?
- I would not talk about the idea, but about the image. What kind of architecture can an idea have? Image, that’s yes. I think everything comes from landscape and geography, oddly enough. Still, it is architecture that is closely connected with them, just like a small other area of human activity. This is the point of view of the middle of the XIX century, but, in my opinion, in fact it is fair. When I look at Russian architecture at different times, it seems to me that it reflects the tops of Christmas trees that expressively stick out over the forest. Russian architecture involves buildings that rise above their surroundings. Any significant building must necessarily rise. It does not stretch wide, as is the case in England. It sticks up and should be visible from distant points. It is clear that new forms are constantly coming to Russian architecture, like any other.But we are best suited for those that are consistent with this trend. The craving for verticalism is a Russian trait.
A. Firsov: That is, all the same, you can just talk about Russian architecture in its unity, as a national phenomenon?
- It’s just that every time it means different things. At an early moment, we understand that this is an integral part of the great Byzantine culture, but at the same time it has national Russian features. We can’t even say this about painting. In the pre-Mongol icon painting they see the same currents that were in Byzantium. Too close a world, too tied to Constantinople. In this sense, architecture is always more national than painting, because painting was transported, but there was no building. It’s easy to bring an artist, it’s more difficult to transport construction masters because they need a lot. Decor can be made according to the model, it is easy to draw, but still it transforms. Decor is a very convenient sign to identify. But here one does not have to divide it strictly: they say that a curl of one form is not national, the other is national. Can saythat the decor is typical for Moscow of such and such a time, for Novgorod and so on.
Yu. Balushkin: And what can you say about such an aspect of Russian architecture as visual harmony, integration into the surrounding space, natural landscape?
- This aspect is very difficult to verify, in order to feel it, you need to have a reliable reconstruction of the appearance of the entire urban settlement. Obviously, settlements in Russia are less crowded than, say, in Italy. There is a lot of space in Russia, the settlements are large, although close development also occurred.
In Russia, the role of political power was initially strong, which unites and decides. Accordingly, she built huge temples, which at the same time very strongly dominated the low buildings. This is something that is so spectacular and beautiful, especially in the Russian North. Low huts and a huge white temple. This can be said as a national line, but this is a purely natural feature associated with the vastness of space.
We need to talk about a specific typology. Types are those developed at the end of the XV - XVI centuries. five-domed and tent temples. First of all, five-domed. It is worth noting the generally small role of decor. In addition to special ideas and orders, such as St. Basil’s Cathedral, where the overload of decor was special, as it is believed, to designate it as Heavenly Jerusalem, not a single temple of that time has rich decor. This is very much in the spirit of the Renaissance, it focuses on small fragments. Moreover, Italian forms are very popular, for example, under Boris Godunov they become fashionable despite the fact that no Italians work here anymore, these are purely Russian works. But the architecture of the Boris Godunov era is probably the most sophisticated in the 16th century in quality. This is a small circle of buildings, but they are very beautiful.There is a special interest of customers in Italian forms, which they simply take from previous Russian churches. Cornices, pilasters, almost order forms begin to stand out even better. I would say that this is such a period when Russian architecture has a very specific look of the Italian Renaissance, but with very specific types of buildings. One of these types is defined by Byzantium.
There are a lot of theories regarding the origin of tent temples, but I like the idea of Andrei Leonidovich Batalov, expressed as a hypothesis, but with certain justifications: this was a special order from Tsar Vasily III for the construction of a temple, likened to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
D. Lisitsin: The tent is copied from somewhere in Italy?
- From Italy copied the temple in Kolomenskoye. And then it turned out to be very popular and everywhere reproduced. In this case, I choose this hypothesis, because the oldest hipped dating monument is Kolomenskoye. There is not a single wooden or stone church that we would definitely date earlier, and it would be a tent.
D. Lisitsin: But what about the theory of Mr. Zagraevsky, who considers the Pokrovsky Church in Alexandrov to be the first tent building, dating it to the beginning of the 16th century. It is much simpler than the Ascension Church in Kolomenskoye, but according to this point of view, the simple must first arise, and then the complex.
There are monuments with controversial dating, much depends on the theoretical position of the researcher. It seems to me that the theory of the iconographic explosion - the unexpected appearance of new complex things on special order and their further copying and simplification - explains the course of historical and architectural development much better.
Ю. Балушкин: Но ведь можно и так трактовать, что были заимствования, влияния, их было много, а затем на местной почве сформировались особые, своеобразные формы, и какие-то из них становились образцами для подражания. Они обладали узнаваемыми чертами, в них были своя специфика и какая-то устойчивость, позволяющие говорить об особом стиле.
- Интересно, что именно в русской архитектуре эти формы особенно часто менялись. Уловить, в чем русскость, сложнее именно потому, что в русской архитектуре были очень серьёзные перерывы. Русская архитектура часто попадала в ситуацию отсутствия строительных кадров, когда приходилось приглашать зарубежных мастеров. Не из-за моды, а потому, что нужны были те, кто умеет строить.
For example, the state of poverty in which Russian architecture resides after the Time of Troubles, in the 1620s, is illustrated by the Church of the Intercession in Rubtsov. It is very interesting as an artifact, but it is very poorly made, just very bad, because there was no one to do well then. Again they call Western masters, whose work largely determines the form of "patterning." In the XIX century it was proclaimed the most popular and uniquely Russian style. But it is all created from some samples from the East and from Europe. The Spassky Tower, for example, is being built on by the British.
D. Lisitsin: What is important is the Western Europeans.
- Yes, Protestants. On the other hand, there is the Trinity Church in Nikitniki. Her portal is made simply on the Persian fabrics that were flooded with the Armory in the Kremlin. Western scholars of the 19th century wrote a lot about what Russian architecture of the 17th century is motley, oriental, etc. But we do not have clear evidence of the influence of something specifically oriental on it, except for individual ornaments.
Yu. Balushkin: Maybe the totality of artifacts of Russian architecture is the original Russian architecture?
“That this is our legacy is without a doubt.” But this aggregate cannot be described by any specific term or to characterize its features. I do not see something definitely unifying at these different buildings. Probably, if you think for a long time, you can come up with something.
D. Lisitsin: Why are borrowings in architecture generally going without problems? And so slowly and with great difficulties are borrowing in the same painting, for example?
- I always say that when the Russians decided to borrow one form or another, it was a very active process, and in no case passive. Not that these forms flew somewhere and suddenly spilled out on us. We ourselves sent an embassy, which sought and brought exactly what we apparently wanted. If they brought what they did not want, nobody would have copied the cathedral. But it turned out exactly what was needed.
I would say that there were no Byzantine influences on Russian architecture. It was once done by the Byzantines, but then, it seems to me, they did not take any part in its development. Although there is a theory that in the 15th century the Balkan masters participated a little, it seems to me a little justified. But Russian painting is inseparable from Byzantine until the beginning of the 15th century; masters from Constantinople worked for us, including such brilliant ones as Theophanes the Greek.
A. Firsov: Let’s make a leap into modernity. List a few modern objects that you think will remain as examples of architecture.
- In the history of Russian architecture, there will definitely be a house at the Sergei Skuratov Mosfilm workshop. Many hate him, but this is one of the most striking phenomena, and I personally like him. That’s how much I generally dislike Moscow City, I like this house so much. I don’t think that it spoils any kind or obscures something. Another question is that you may not like modern architecture at all.
There is still one temple, I love it very much and always show it to students. It is located in the town of Povenets, at the place where the Belomorkanal connects to Lake Onega. Built in 2003 according to the project of Elena Shapovalova. This is a memorial, because many people died on the construction of the White Sea Canal. The tourist booklet says that he "combines the best traditions of Kizhi, Solovki and Valaam." Oddly enough, he really connects them. And it is made very modern. The basis is the Cathedral of the Solovetsky Monastery with four tower-shaped aisles on the sides - this association is very logical for the camp memorial temple. At the same time, the material of the temple is raw concrete, which is stylized as camp architecture, with wooden elements and barbed wire. The bell tower is imitated under the camp tower, and the temple itself has a very interesting five-domedspecially invented, which alludes to Kizhi, and to the architecture of other regions of the Russian North. All this is very well inscribed in the landscape.
A. Firsov: This is more of a monument to the repressed.
- Of course, but this is the only living example of temple architecture that I know of, because today models are mainly being built.
A. Serditov: And yet, in the end, is architecture elitist or folk?
- Rather, it is elitist. Just because its production is expensive. In addition, it is not so much focused on the taste of the consumer as on the impact on it. Architecture does not depend on the taste of the population at all. Even if democracy reigns in the country and the construction is not very successful, you are unlikely to lose the election for this reason. And if the country has an authoritarian regime, then architecture becomes a direct conductor of its ideals. In this sense, it is, of course, generally more elitist.
A. Serditov: And how then can architecture be a reflection of a national character?
- Can’t the elite be the bearer of a national character? It seems to me that, in the first place, it is she who is the carrier. Because the elite forms those tastes, which then spread down. It is an active link, those below are actively perceiving, but only what the elite has taken away. They can only take away. And if they have a broad outlook, they decide to travel and shape their own taste, so they become an elite.
N. Mushroom: In Europe, when something is being built or reconstructed, there are obligations - houses on this street should be made of red brick, and this one should be made of stone. You can’t understand which house was built in the XVI century, which in the XVIII, and which in the XXI. Our owners believe that it is easier to demolish everything and re-create something. Of course, then no recreation is obtained. In this regard, the question is - are there any aesthetic standards today?
- There are formal standards, but they are constantly violated. The question is how it should be. The fact is that European practice is very different. In England, if the owner wants to demolish the house, in rare cases it can be opposed to this, because the Anglo-Saxon tradition always gives priority to the private over the general. In France, I think, you simply cannot move your finger, everything is under the strictest ban. In Spain, Belgium, many were demolished and changed. The legislation is very different, but I would not say that everywhere there are exact requirements to leave the old forms. There are requirements not to go beyond the overall color scheme or appearance. And in general, few people want to do this, except for the British. What distinguishes Russia from Western Europe: in Russia, people have almost no sense of attachment,attachment to a specific place (although now it is developing a little). This is the fruit of the politics of the 19th century, which constantly equalized all Russia in every way. From the end of the 18th century, uniformity was planted, it was a policy that deliberately destroys everything special in Russia. It continued into Soviet times. In the 1990s and 2000s, when everyone breathed a little more freely.
Now this trend of its own, local, is active, although it is increasingly at odds with the new political reality. Many people realized that their house is not 4 walls, but the space of the street and the city. And they do not spare money, and, more importantly, energy to transform the space around them. I would like to hope that they succeed - as their ancestors succeeded in the era of our great prosperity and diversity, in the XVIII century.