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Entering Royal Academy of Art’s courtyard, Jeremy Dixon’s model of Tatlin’s tower dominates the space. The rest of the exhibition, modest in size and while having its importance diminished by its placement in front of the restaurant’s entrance, still succeeds to convey a fairly accurate sense of the original structure

Tatlin’s propaganda tower though it was never actually constructed in the size it was intended to (bigger than the Eiffel Tower), still managed to acquire an indisputable position in universal architectural history. Attempting to discover reasons for that, one cannot but acknowledge that this is a truly inspired sculptural form. One of its main elements, its spiralling beam which unfolds upwards, is supported by a number of rectangular frames most of which do not actually reach the ground but are based on a series of arcs. Curves and right angles are conflicting geometries which intertwine into a unique visual paradox that initially aimed to symbolize the high aspirations of the Russian socialist party.

Perhaps this structure became so famous because it managed to combine contradictory forms in a wonderfully delicate balance. Or was it rather because it described so eloquently an era of great expectations that failed to achieve its goals? It is much more than its form that renders this structure so successful. It is a snapshot of a historical chimaera interpreted and assembled by architectural parts at its best.

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