Construction in art: from Brueghel to Vasya Lozhkin

    On these inter-holiday days, when spring and a premonition of the second weekend series make it difficult to concentrate on work, the INSYSTEMS team decided to please the readers of our blog post on art. More specifically, about how artists of different times transferred their impressions, observations or fantasies about the construction process onto a canvas or paper. We hope that the selection of paintings will set up those who work in this field, and everyone interested in a positive way (we know how many problems arise in a construction site of any scale). Happy reading and good May holidays!


    Do you believe that a crane depicted on canvas can cost $ 5,000? You can not answer, the picture has already been sold, and such a crane in the visual arts was not one at all. And until you get to the desperate thought “Mom, you had to go to the artists” and exchange the caliper for a brush, look at a selection of paintings depicting the construction site. Roerich, Müller, Leger are far from the only ones who at one time were inspired by architecture as a process. Let's start with the origins.

    What was built in antiquity


    Of course, temples, cathedrals and churches. The technique and organization of construction in ancient times were reluctant to change. Therefore, for example, the construction of the Renaissance practically did not differ from the medieval one. How the monumental Gothic church was built, we can see through the eyes of the famous European artist Anton Muller (1563-1611). His painting, Exaltation of the Temple, painted in 1602, is on display at the Gdansk National Museum.


    Muller is a man of the Renaissance, and his picture can give an idea of ​​the construction of churches not only of his own, but also of the previous era. The picture depicts several scenes from which you can see who built, what work was carried out, at what time. In the foreground we see a group of people in oriental clothes, if you look closely, their faces have seen their lives - often the greatest cathedrals were built by sinners, among which there could be robbers and murderers.

    The artist did not show all the stages of the construction of the late Gothic building, we will not know how the foundations were laid, how the towers were erected. However, we see scaffolding covering almost the entire structure: they were laid on beams connected on one side with hemp ropes to the vertical support posts, and on the other hand, resting on the recesses of the walls.

    And now let's zoom in a bit. Who are these people?


    Yes, it's the masons who are building another pillar. One master prepares a brick, another - the one in the middle - puts the mortar, the third - the plaster. 5 centuries later, little has changed.

    But the main building plot for Renaissance artists was, of course, Babylon. The construction of the Tower of Babel was depicted many times by artists, but the most famous embodiment of this plot was the painting of Brueghel the Elder - "Tower of Babel" (1563).


    It can be assumed that the artist showed the development of construction equipment with the help of composition: take a closer look, manual labor is in the foreground, then we see long poles for moving stone slabs, and then more and more powerful and large-scale tools go down to cranes. But the scale of the picture seems to hint at the futility of insignificant human efforts. The building resembles the Roman Colosseum and, at first glance, it seems well designed, but if you peer for a long time, without looking up, you get the impression that the structure rotates, as if moving and tilting. This is not an accident: Bruegel was passionate about the movement and used this technique in many of his paintings. The “Tower of Babel” is kept at the Museum of the History of Art in Vienna, the dimensions of the canvas are quite impressive: 114 × 155 cm.

    Speaking of Renaissance painting, one cannot fail to mention Italians. And here before us unfolds the most detailed painting by Piero di Cosimo “The Construction of the Palace” (1515-1520).


    This mysterious painting, which belonged to the Medici family in the 17th century, was commissioned by the Guild of Stone and Wood Masters (and simply, builders) can be the subject of a study by historians about how the construction of an idealized Renaissance palace unfolded. Why is it mysterious? Find in the picture: a construction hoist, a sawmill, a site for mixing concrete, and, of course, the unloading of a newly arrived antique dump truck with a stone for interior decoration. Now the picture is in the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota (Florida, USA).

    "Build like St. Isaac's Cathedral"


    - What you are doing? - the stranger turned to the masters.
    “Scraping a stone, if it was wrong,” said the first.
    “You don’t see the clay shovel,” the second muttered.
    “I'm building Chartres Cathedral,” the third answered.
    Ancient parable

    Looking at St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, it’s hard to imagine that all this was built by people, but perhaps the answer lies in the parable - everything is possible with enthusiasm.

    Auguste de Montferrand, in addition to being an architect, painted very well. An example of this is the published album with 49 (!) Lithographs showing the legendary construction, which lasted 40 years. In the Finnish language there is even a saying “Rakentaa kuin Iisakin kirkkoa” - “Build like St. Isaac’s Cathedral” - this is what they say about something impossible, requiring endless efforts.


    Is drawing so believable? Questions arise, why is a stone that weighed clearly no less than a ton carried on log skids, and not on wheels, and people are driven?

    “When you see what wonderful buildings people built in the old days, you involuntarily think that they were happier than us,” Remarque once said. Look at the cathedral. And now on these people carrying a stone. Oh, lucky ones! Engraving made by the drawing of Montferrand can be seen in the Hermitage.

    Did not draw - did not build


    The genres of painting are only forms of displaying life. Realities are changing, genres are changing. So the industrial landscape appeared. Its appearance is absolutely logical: technological progress in the 20th century has reached incredible speeds, life has changed, technologies have changed. But the interpretation of the industrial landscape could be completely different: the new world with its technology and machines could be perceived both as antiprojection, hostile to people, and as a symbol of a brighter future. In our Soviet society, with the onset of the 1920s, an optimistic view was formed - construction and technology became symbols of nascent socialism, everything played into the image of a prosperous future for the country. Everything fell under the brush and pencil: tractors and excavators, cranes and concrete mixers. What to hide the presence of a painting in the genre of industrial landscape gave the artist a kind of pass into the world of exhibitions, because socialist realism in paintings was actively supported by the state. The construction became a part of people's lives in the literal sense, which is imprinted on the picture of Yury Pimenov's “Wedding on Tomorrow Street” (1962, presented in the Tretyakov Gallery). Instead of carpet underfoot - construction boards, instead of a wedding walk in the sights - an excursion to laying pipes.


    Another masterpiece from the Tretyakov Gallery is the famous painting by Nicholas Roerich, “They Build a City” (1902). As the artist himself wrote: “In it, I wanted to express the desire for creation, when towers and walls are piled up in the midst of the addition of new strongholds ... Nowadays, when we have experienced so many destruction, every construction is especially valuable ...”.


    It is striking that all the builders in white clothes. Why? The artist himself only hints at the belief in a bright future: “We know what difficulties every builder is surrounded by now, what kind of ascetic he must be in order to overcome the onslaught of destruction, chaos, darkness. True, darkness is scattered from light, but this light must be more intense than darkness in order to scatter it. ”

    Countless Soviet paintings on construction. Many of them are still sold in antique shops and delight with the saying names: “Technics are being taken”, “Steel Plant”, “Palace of Metallurgists”, “Worker of the mine”, and, perhaps, the most valuable is “Drummer” (oil on canvas, 1 180 000 rub.).

    One of the striking examples of the topic of construction and literally the emblem of the 20th century was “Builders” by Fernand Leger (1951): “This idea came to me on the way to Chevreuse. Near the road were built three high-voltage towers. Working people piled up on them. I was struck by the contrast between these people, metal architecture, clouds and sky. People so small, as if lost in this strict, harsh, hostile ensemble - that’s what I wanted to show. I accurately emphasized the plastic significance of human actions, sky, clouds, metal. ”


    Leger also was optimistic about industrialization and saw his mission in aesthetically bringing technology and people closer together. The picture can be seen in the State Museum of Fine Arts. A.S. Pushkin.

    Our days


    And finally, do building plots inspire contemporary artists? Yes, for example, the reconstruction of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior was reflected more than once in the paintings of Moscow artists.

    Pavlova Oksana. The construction of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior

    Sergey Andriyaka. The construction of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

    There is a place of fantasy in European painting, which is perfectly reflected by the construction of the Hungarian artist Vida Gabor.


    The scene is obviously some kind of European town, and the heroes seem to be out of time: this can be seen even today. The painting was sold at auction in 2017 (the initial estimate of the lot varied from 3 to 5 thousand English pounds) and is now in a private collection.

    A storm of menacing sky and construction cranes as a symbol of the construction crisis and unfinished buildings of our time - this is how Spanish artist Thomas Costano describes his canvas. Now the picture "Cranes and clouds" can be purchased for $ 2950.


    The famous British actor Peter Ustinov, the one who played Poirot, subtly remarked: "Killers and architects always return to the scene of the crime." Design and build so that your “crime” is worthy of the artist’s brush. There is simply no right for a mistake in our profession!

    And this is the work of the contemporary artist Vasya Lozhkin, which he wrote on a special order from INSYSTEMS . The main characters are builders and a red cat, who became the company’s mascot.


    Everything can be approached with humor. And construction is no exception!

    And somehow we tried to look at the objects built and equipped with the INSYSTEMS team through the eyes of famous artists who worked in different genres. And this is what we got. By the way, all these objects then made up our corporate calendar, which we presented to our partners and friends.

    The administrative building of the organizing committee of the Olympic Winter Games 2014

    Sberbank Client Operations Support Center

    Cosmodrome "East"

    MegaCOD-2 of Sberbank in Skolkovo

    Far Eastern Center for Shipbuilding and Ship Repair, Zvezda Plant



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