Neoclassicism is a term used in Russian art to refer to the artistic phenomena of the last third of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which are characterized by an appeal to the traditions of the art of antiquity, Renaissance art or classicism (in music, also Baroque).
In foreign art criticism, neoclassicism refers to classicism in the architecture and fine arts of the second half of the 18th century – the first third of the 19th century, in contrast to the classicism of an earlier period
Neoclassicism in architecture
Confusion arose from the fact that in France classicism is called the style of the XVII century, the style of Louis XIV (Louis XIV). Neoclassicism is understood as the style of the second half of the 18th century, the style of Louis XVI (Louis XVI) – what in Russia (as in Germany) is traditionally called classicism (the period 1762-1840).
Neoclassicism in Russia and Germany refers to the retrospective style of the beginning of the 20th century, “different from the” good old “Russian classicism and materials (not white plastered columns, but natural stone), and emphasized by the expressive depiction of classical forms and details, and sometimes by cutting details and mixing classical and Renaissance motifs ”
Analogues of neoclassicism in foreign practice are American renaissance and colonial revival in the USA (1876-1914).
The crisis of Art Nouveau style
At the end of the XIX century, a new architectural style was formed, in Russia called “modern”. But he could not satisfy the urgent need for a large monumental style. Neoclassicism appeared at the beginning of the century as the antithesis of the decorative redundancy of modernity. Reliance on the classic, order system, observance of classical proportions. The desire for coziness, harmony. Characteristic decorations: leaves, shells, architectural pediments, antique figures. Furniture is light, elegant, straight lines.
In parallel with the innovative tendencies in the architecture of the early twentieth century. retrospective trends were gaining momentum. The thirst for novelty quickly gave way to dreams of the past. The “reopening” of the values of classical architecture accelerated the disappointment in architectural innovations and the decline of the “fleeting” style. Neoclassicism and the “neo-Russian style” first influenced the lexicon of modernity, and after 1910 they pushed him to the distant future.
Goals and Tasks of Neoclassicism
Neoclassicism set a large-scale task: to revive and confirm the ensemble and style integrity of the capital, to continue its development at the level of the latest achievements, but according to the precepts of antiquity. This contributed to the rise of town-planning ideas, which were mostly historical in color. In this character, the grandiose plan of the residential area “New Petersburg” on the island of Golodai (IA Fomin, FI Lidval) and the competition projects of the monumental ensemble of public buildings on Tuchkov Bujan (I Fomin, OR Munts , M. Kh. Dubinsky, SS Serafimov). “The project of the transformation of St. Petersburg” by F. Ye. Enakiev and L. N. Benois, comparable to the master plan, provided for a comprehensive reconstruction of the city and its infrastructure with the laying of new streets and transport arteries. Implementation of these proposals prevented the First World War.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the entire Petrograd side, almost all the quarters on the Vasilievsky Island and in the left-bank regions, were almost completely rebuilt. The exemplary street of this time was the Kamennoostrovsky Avenue – the “exposition” of the best works of modern and neoclassicism. On the Nevsky Prospekt and in the adjacent blocks the area of the Petersburg City was finally formed. The city acquired new features of the capital’s imposing and European gloss. But the revolutionary upheavals tragically broke his fate.
Neoclassicism – in fact, the first major architectural style in the history of Petersburg architecture, the main one on its own heritage – crossed the boundary of 1917 and continued to develop in completely different conditions until the mid-1920s, when for a short time gave way to constructivism. The lessons of neoclassicism of the beginning of the century turned out to be extremely fruitful and promising not only for the Soviet traditionalist architecture of the 1930s-1950s; they are again relevant at the present time.