Construction in art: from Bruegel to Vasi Lozhkin

Construction in art: from Bruegel to Vasi Lozhkin


On these days between holidays, when spring and the premonition of the second series of weekends make it difficult to concentrate on work, the team INSISTEMS" decided to please the readers of our blog with a post about art. Or rather, about how artists of different times transferred their impressions, observations or fantasies about the construction process to canvas or paper. We hope that the selection of pictures will set up those who work in this field and all those interested in a positive way (we know how many problems arise at a construction site of any scale). Happy reading and good May holidays!


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

What was built in antiquity


Of course, temples, cathedrals and churches. The technique and organization of construction in antiquity reluctantly changed. Therefore, for example, the construction of the Renaissance almost did not differ from the medieval. How the monumental Gothic church was built, we can see through the eyes of the famous European artist Anton Muller (1563-1611). His painting "The Elevation of the Temple", written in 1602, is represented in the Gdansk National Museum.


Muller is a man of the Renaissance, and his picture can give an idea of ​​the construction of temples not only of his own, but also of the previous epoch. The picture shows several scenes on 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 robes, if you look closely, their faces have seen life - often the greatest cathedrals were built by sinners, among whom 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 exactly the towers were erected. However, we see scaffoldings 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 zoom in a bit. Who are these people?


Yes, masons are building another pillar. One master prepares a brick, the other - the one that in the middle - causes the solution, the third - plaster. 5 centuries later, little has changed.

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


It can be assumed that the artist showed the development of construction equipment with the help of a composition: look closely, in the foreground there is manual labor, then we see long poles for moving stone slabs, and then more and more powerful and large-scale tools, up to cranes. But the scale of the picture as if hints at the futility of insignificant human effort.The building resembles the Roman Coliseum and, at first glance, it seems well designed, but if you stare for a long time without stopping, you get the impression that the structure is rotating, as if it is moving and leaning. This is no accident: Bruegel was fascinated by the movement and used this technique in many of his paintings. The Tower of Babel is kept in the Museum of Art History in Vienna, the dimensions of the canvas are quite impressive: 114 × 155 cm.

Speaking of painting the Renaissance, it is impossible not to mention the Italians. And here we see the most detailed canvas by Piero di Cosimo “Building a Palace” (1515-1520).


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

"Build like St. Isaac's Cathedral"


- What are you doing? - turned to the masters stranger.
“Cutting a stone, be it wrong,” said the first.
- Do not you see, clay shit, - growled the second.
“I am building Chartres Cathedral,” answered the third.
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 in the parable lies the answer - everything is possible with enthusiasm.
Auguste de Montferrand, besides being an architect, painted beautifully. An example of this is a published album with 49 (!) Lithographs showing legendary construction that lasted 40 years. In Finnish, 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 the picture plausible? There are questions why the stone, which weighed clearly no less than a ton, is being driven on log rails rather than on wheels, and are people being 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 who are carrying the stone. Oh, lucky ones! An engraving made according to the figure of Montferrand can be seen in the Hermitage.

Did not paint - did not build


Painting genres are only forms of life. The realities are changing, genres are changing. This is how the industrial landscape appeared. Its appearance is absolutely logical: technical progress in the XX 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 as an anti-nature, hostile to people, and as a symbol of a brighter future. With the advent of the 1920s, an optimistic view emerged in our Soviet society — construction and technology became symbols of the emerging socialism, everything played on the image of a prosperous future for the country. Everything under the brush and pencil: tractors and excavators, cranes and concrete mixers. What to hide, the presence of a painting in the industrial landscape genre gave the artist a kind of pass to the world of exhibitions, because social realism in paintings was actively supported by the state. Construction became a part of people's lives in a literal sense, which is captured in the picture of Yury Pimenov's “Wedding in tomorrow's street” (1962, presented in the Tretyakov Gallery).Instead of a carpet underfoot, construction boards, instead of a wedding walk to the sights, a tour of laying pipes.


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


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

Soviet paintings dedicated to construction, countless. Many of them are still being sold in antique shops and are pleased by the speaking names: “Technics are being transported”, “Steel Foundry”, “Palace of Metallurgists”, “Worker of the mine”, and, perhaps, the most valuable - “Udarnitsa” (oil on canvas, 1,180,000 rubles).

One of the clearest examples of the topic of construction and literally the emblem of the 20th century was the “Builders” of Fernand Leger (1951): “This idea came to me on the way to Chevreuse. Three high voltage towers were built near the road. They piled up working people. I was struck by the contrast between these people, the metal architecture, the clouds and the sky. People are so small, as if lost in this strict, stern, hostile ensemble - this is what I wanted to show. I emphasized with precision the plastic meaning of human actions, sky, clouds, metal. ”


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

Our days


And finally, are the construction plots inspired by contemporary artists? Yes, for example, the re-creation of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior was reflected more than once in the paintings of Moscow artists.

Pavlova Oksana. Construction of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior

Sergey Andriyaka. Construction of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

In European painting there is a place of fantasy, which is perfectly reflected in the Hungarian artist Kinds of Gabor “Construction”.


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

The storm of the threatening sky and construction cranes as a symbol of the construction crisis and unfinished buildings of modernity - this is how Spanish painter Thomas Kostano describes his canvas. Now the picture is " Cranes and clouds " can be purchased for $ 2950.

< br/> The famous British actor Peter Ustinov, the one that played Poirot, subtly remarked: "Murderers and architects always return to the crime scene." Design and build so that your "crime" was worthy of the artist's brush. There is no right to make a mistake in our profession!

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


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

And we somehow tried to look at the objects built and equipped by the INSISTEMS team through the eyes of famous artists who worked in various genres. And that's what we did. 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

Vostochny Cosmodrome

MegaCOD-2 of Sberbank in Skolkovo

Far Eastern Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Center, Zvezda Plant


Source text: Construction in art: from Bruegel to Vasi Lozhkin