Tatlin's Tower

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Tatlin's Tower
Памятник III Интернационалу
Russia-2000-stamp-Tatlin Tower and Worker and Kolkhoz Woman by Vera Mukhina.jpg
2000 Russia 1 rub 50 kopeks stamp. Tatlin's Tower and Worker and Kolkhoz Woman by Vera Mukhina.
Former names Monument to the Third International
General information
Status Never built
Type Monument, Communications, Conferences, Government, etc.
Architectural style Constructivism
Location St. Petersburg, Russia
Construction started Never
Height 400 m (1,300 ft)
Design and construction
Architect Vladimir Tatlin
Architecture firm Creative Collective

Tatlin’s Tower, or the project for the Monument to the Third International (1919–20),[1] was a design for a grand monumental building by the Russian artist and architect Vladimir Tatlin, that was never built.[2] It was planned to be erected in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, as the headquarters and monument of the Comintern (the third international).


Model of the tower, 1919.

Tatlin's Constructivist tower was to be built from industrial materials: iron, glass and steel. In materials, shape and function, it was envisaged as a towering symbol of modernity. It would have dwarfed the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The tower's main form was a twin helix which spiraled up to 400 m in height,[3] around which visitors would be transported with the aid of various mechanical devices. The main framework would contain four large suspended geometric structures. These structures would rotate at different rates. At the base of the structure was a cube which was designed as a venue for lectures, conferences and legislative meetings, and this would complete a rotation in the span of one year. Above the cube would be a smaller pyramid housing executive activities and completing a rotation once a month. Further up would be a cylinder, which was to house an information centre, issuing news bulletins and manifestos via telegraph, radio and loudspeaker, and would complete a rotation once a day. At the top, there would be a hemisphere for radio equipment. There were also plans to install a gigantic open-air screen on the cylinder, and a further projector which would be able to cast messages across the clouds on any overcast day.[4]


Even if the gigantic amount of required steel had been available in bankrupt post-revolutionary Russia, in the context of housing shortages and political turmoil, there are serious doubts about its structural practicality.[4]

Symbolically, the tower was said to represent the aspirations of its originating country[3] and a challenge to the Eiffel Tower as the foremost symbol of modernity.[5] Soviet critic Viktor Shklovsky is said to have called it a monument "made of steel, glass and revolution."[3]


Model of Tatlin's Tower in the courtyard of the Royal Academy, London.

There are models of Tatlin’s Tower at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden, at Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, and at Musée National d'Art Moderne at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. A 1:42 model was built at The Royal Academy of Arts, London in November 2011. In September 2017, the same 1:42 model was erected as part of the 'Russian Season' at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich. It is expected to become a permanent feature of the University of East Anglia's 'sculpture park' once the exhibition closes in February 2018.[6]

In 1989 the firm Edra produced a sofa named "Tatlin" inspired by the tower, designed by Mario Cananzi e Roberto Semprini.

Ai Weiwei's 2007 sculpture "Fountain of Light", currently on display at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, is modelled on the Tatlin Tower.[7][8]


  • Native name: Памятник III Интернационалу
  • Location: Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation
  • Status: cancelled
  • Constructed: Never
  • Building uses: monument, communications, conferences, government, other
  • Structural types: other, flag, revolving floor, sign, truss
  • Materials: glass, steel, iron
  • Height: 400 m (1,312 ft)
  • It was designed to surpass the Eiffel Tower by a third part of its height.
  • Architect: Vladimir Tatlin
  • Team "Creative Collective": Iosif A. Meerzon, Pavel Vinogradov, Tevel Markovich Shapiro
  • Its tilt is the same as Earth: 23.5 degrees.
  • The cube was designed to host the congresses of the Third International and make a full rotation each year. The pyramid would make a spin in 30 days and would be the place for the bureaucracy. The thin cylinder was to revolve in a day and host a newspaper. A radio station was to be placed in the little dome at the top.
  • Structure style: constructivism

See also[edit]

References and sources[edit]

  1. ^ Honour, H. and Fleming, J. (2009) A World History of Art. 7th edn. London: Laurence King Publishing, p. 819. ISBN 9781856695848
  2. ^ Janson, H.W. (1995) History of Art. 5th edn. Revised and expanded by Anthony F. Janson. London: Thames & Hudson, p. 820. ISBN 0500237018
  3. ^ a b c Ching, Francis D.K., et al. (2011). Global History of Architecture. 2nd edition. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., p. 716.
  4. ^ a b Grey, Camilla (1986). The Russian Experiment in Art. London: Thames & Hudson. 
  5. ^ Hughes, L. (2010). "Art—Russia" in W. H. McNeill, J. H. Bentley, D. Christian, R. C. Croizier, J. R. McNeill, H. Roupp, & J. P. Zinsser (Eds.), Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History (2nd ed., Vol. 1, pp. 259–267). Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire Publishing, p. 266.
  6. ^ "Sainsbury Centre adds 10-metre tower to UEA sculpture park - Press Release - UEA". www.uea.ac.uk. Retrieved 2017-09-26. 
  7. ^ https://theartstack.com/artist/ai-weiwei-ai-wei-wei/fountain-of-light
  8. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/nov/07/louvre-abu-dhabi-sheikh-chic-throws-controversial-construction-in-relief
  • Tatlin's Tower: Monument to Revolution, Norbert Lynton, Yale University Press, 2008
  • Art and Literature under the Bolsheviks: Volume One – The Crisis of Renewal Brandon Taylor, Pluto Press, London 1991
  • Tatlin, edited by L.A. Zhadova, Thames and Hudson, London 1988
  • Concepts of Modern Art, edited by Nikos Stangos, Thames and Hudson, London 1981
  • Vladimir Tatlin and the Russian avant-garde, John Milner, Yale University Press, New Haven 1983
  • Nikolai Punin. The Monument to the Third International, 1920

External links[edit]