§.00—The Comte de Buffon in his epigram Discours sur le style, declared, “Style is the man himself.” Schopenhaur echoed the sentiment in The Art of Literature, wherein he wrote, “Style is the physiognomy of the mind.” Which is to say: The philosophy of a designer is imbued in their constructions; whether a book or a building. Thus, the study of a work of art is also a study of its creator’s mind and the more immediate the apprehension of the style, the more forceful the character.
§.01—A prime example of this can be found amidst the 1934 concepts for the architectural competition of the People’s Commissariat of Heavy Industry (Narkomtiazhprom; NKTP) building, the finer examples of which, exhude order, precision, and sprawling, uncompromising potency. The NKTP was the successor to the VSNKh (which was split into three commissariats in 1932) and initiated the contest amidst a backdrop of industrial decentralization and administrative specialization. In total 120 entries were submitted.
The NKTP building was never constructed—some scholars contend the state never intended to see it built but only to tease out the avant-gardists from the neoclassicists—had it been, according to specifications, it would have occupied 40,000 square meters in built-out area and 110,000 square meters of usable floor area, along the Kitay-gorod (Great Possad) in Central Moscow.
§.02—Below is a small selection of some of the finer entries.
“I consider that the architecture of the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral should be subordinated to the architecture of the Narkomtiazhprom [Commissariat of Heavy Industry], and that this building itself must occupy the central place in the city.” —Notes to the Narkomtiazhprom competition
- Arthur Schopenhaur. (1891) The Art of Literature.
- Dominique Dhombres. (2008) “The style is the man himself.” Le Monde.
- Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon. (1753) Discourse on Style.
- Kathleen Kuiper et al. (2013) Stylistics. Encyclopedia Britannica.
- Khlevnyuk, O. (1997). The People’s Commissariat of Heavy Industry. Decision-Making in the Stalinist Command Economy, 1932–37, 94–123.
- Robert A. Lewis. Science & Industrialization In The U.S.S.R.: Industrial Research & Development 1917–1940. Palgrave Macmillan.