Author(s): Lois Nesbitt
Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin are the best known of a loosely organised group of Soviet artists known as "Paper Architects," who designed much but built little in the early days of Glasnost, in the late 1980s. Many of their elaborate etchings, in which they depicted outlandish, often impossible, structures and cityscapes of allegorical content, were collected in our 1990 book Brodsky & Utkin, and our 2003 reprint which included an additional forty-three new and never-before-published prints. In their designs, by turns funny, cerebral, and deeply human, Brodsky & Utkin borrow from Egyptian tombs, Ledoux's visionary architecture, Le Corbusier's urban master plans, and other historical precedents, collaging these heterogeneous forms in learned and layered scrambles. Underlying the wit and visual inventiveness is an unmistakable moral: that the dehumanizing architecture of the sort seen in Russian cities in the 1980s and 1990s, and elsewhere around the globe, takes a sinister toll...
Lois Nesbitt is a writer on art and architecture who lives in New York.