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Tatlin's Tower and the World

Part 2 Dissertation 2007
David Rooney
David Rooney
Queen's University Belfast | UK
Vladimir Tatlin’s Monument to the Third International, designed to accommodate the Comintern headquarters in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg), never had to endure the concessions and ignominy of construction to ensure its place in history. Tatlin’s intention to create a truly revolutionary monument to equal the dynamism of the 1917 Russian Revolutions resulted in a proposal for a four hundred metre high glass and steel structure that would have dwarfed the Eiffel Tower and become the world’s tallest building, had it been built. It was to be the beginning of the creation of a new world, where art was fundamental to the progression of the new way of life. It became known as Tatlin’s Tower.

Almost ninety years after its creation, and despite never actually being built, the Tower still commands attention, inspiring those who revere it and drawing criticism from those who don’t. It remains the most striking and controversial piece of work associated with Russian Constructivism. Tatlin’s belief that an artist could successfully combine art and architecture is a defiant one and one which continues to raise debate. Whilst some believe it is the greatest unbuilt piece of architecture in history, others question Tatlin’s intellect and ask if his Tower should even be classified as architecture at all.

Despite its impact within Russian art, there is not a single book solely devoted to Tatlin’s Tower. For a significant period, the Tower was largely about forgotten in Russia due to the rigid precepts of the Soviet Union and official state adoption of Socialist Realism. In the West, precise details of Tatlin’s Tower still remain somewhat elusive and, until now, there is no written account demonstrating the relevance of the Tower in contemporary Western society, or its impact upon the arts. Tatlin’s Tower is a symbol of the epoch; it signalled a change in the accepted methods of art and construction in Russia and beyond, and as such, it deserves at least one piece of literature devoted solely to it. It is for this reason that I have chosen to write my dissertation on Tatlin’s most famous work.

David Rooney
David Rooney

This is a well researched, well constructed and well written account of the background to one of the most iconic images of Modernism in the twentieth century with the added interest that during the course of the investigation the student made unexpected contact with a present-day group of avant-garde artists who are currently obsessed with the subject.

The student showed great keenness in engaging with the subject and its current admirers, as well as demonstrating complete competence in research and writing, and in presentable tasks.

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