- Lev Kekushev
caption=Isakov Apartment Building, 1904-1906
name=Lev Nikolayevich Kekushev
birth_date=February 19, 1862
death_date=?? 1916 - 1919
Isakov Apartment Building
significant_projects=Completion of Hotel Metropol
Lev Nikolayevich Kekushev ( _ru. Лев Николаевич Кекушев) was a
Russian architect, notable for his Art Nouveaubuildings in Moscow, built in the 1890s and early 1900s in the original, Franco-Belgian variety of this style. Kekushev's buildings are notable for his skillful use of metal ornaments and his signature with a lion ("Lev") ornament or sculpture.
Kekushev was born in the family of a Russian officer in
Vilno(Maria Naschokina, p.253; Simbirskaccording to other sources). Kekushev graduated high school in Vilno, and the Institute of Civil Engineers in Saint Petersburg(1883-1889). For one year, he worked as a state-employed construction engineer in Saint Petersburg, but relocated to Moscow in 1890. At first an assistant to architect Semyon Eybushits, he started independent practice in 1893. At the same time, Kekushev became a master in applied art technologies - iron forging, silver galvanizationand chemical frosting of glass. Throughout the 1890s, Kekushev and Illarion Ivanov-Shitzwere employed by Moscow-based railway companies and designed dozens of extant railway stations.
Kekushev was the first practicioner of
Art Nouveauin Moscow, starting with his apartment buildings in Varsonofyevskay Lane and Bolshaya Dmitrovks, completed 1893. His style (unlike the next generation of Art Nouveau architects like William Walcotand Fyodor Schechtel) is very close to the original Belgian style of Victor Horta. The new wave of architecture was endorsed and financed by prominent business figures like the Khludov and Morozov families and Jacob Reck.
In 1898-1899, Kekushev won the first prize in the open contest for Hotel Metropol; financier
Savva Morozovdiscarded the decision of a professional jury and awarded architectural design to William Walcot. However, the owners retained Kekushev as overall project manager. "None of this (Walcot's earlier) work is on the scale of the Metropole; Kekushev's assistance was probably crucial to the final realization of this complex structure, with its immense dome of glass and iron over an interior court" (Brumfield, chapter 3). Kekushev's talent and recognition peaked in 1900-1903, when Art Nouveau, for a while, became the dominant style in Moscow. His buildings include such diverse luxury residences as the timber-framed Nosov House (Electrozavodskaya Street) and stone and steel Mindovsky House (44 Povarskaya Street, now Embassy of New Zealand- a part of a large affluent community developed by Jacob Reck). Kekushev, skilled in interior finishes, practiced Gesamtkunstwerkapproach, designing interiors down to the smallest details. Unlike other architects, who commissioned artwork finishes to independent artists, all Kekushev buildings have distinct Kekushev metal ornaments.
Withdrawal from practice
Russian revolution of 1905, when public opinion "dismissed Art Nouveau as ephemeraof fashion" (Brumfield, chapter 3) in favor of Neoclassical revival, Kekushev was unwilling or unable to change, and worked on low-profile, unimportant projects. By 1912 he practically disappeared from professional scene.
Maria Naschokina, a historian of Art Nouveau, suggested that Kekushev's withdrawal was actually caused by unspecified (probably, mental) illness; this statement has not been thoroughly proved. Kekushev's last years remain a mystery; even the year of his death is disputed (1916 to 1919).
The architect's son,
Nikolay Kekushev, was a famous aviatorwho saw combat in 1924 in Central Asia, later working as aircraft engineer on Arctic flights in the 1920s and 1930s. He was a member of Pavel Golovin's air crew that was the first to reach the North Poleon May 5 1937in preparation for Ivan Papanin's polar expedition. During World War II, he flew 59 missions on a DC-3 to and from besieged Leningrad, evacuating starving residents; later, he served on anti- submarineArctic patrols. In 1948 Nikolay Kekushev was arrested, and he spent six years in Dzhezkazganlabor camps. He survived and wrote a book of memoirs, "Zveriada"; however, it does not reveal much about his father's last years.
* 1890-1893 - Central Public Baths
* 1890-1893 - Okhotny Ryad redevelopment
* 1890-1893 - Apartment Building of Gregory the Theosof Church, Bolshaya Dmitrovka Street
* 1892 - 1899 I.N.Geyer
Almshouse, 15 Verkhaya Krasnoselskaya, [http://sobory.ru/article/index.html?object=03629 photographs]
* 1893 - Gagarin Apartment Building, Varsonofievsky Lane (partly destroyed by facadist "reconstruction" in 2000s)
* 1894 - 1895 - Korobkov House, Pyatnitskaya Street (with
* 1894 - 1896 - Khludov Apartment Building,
* 1898 - 1900 - Grachev Estate,
Khovrino, now 77 Festivalnaya Street, Moscow, modelled after casino in Monte-Carloby Charles Garnier
* 1898 - 1899 - Gustav List House, 8 Glazovsky Lane, with
William Walcotmosaic frieze. Kekushev started this building for himself, but halfway into construction, List offered him the bounty Kekushev could not resist.
* 1898 - 1899 -
* 1899 - Nekrasov Building, 4
* 1899 - 1900 - Saarbekov House, Povarskaya Street
* 1899 - 1900 - Iberian Trade Rows, Nikolskaya Street
* 1900 - 1903 - Own house, 21 Ostozhenka Street (also known as Kekysheva House, as he had to give it to his ex-wife in settling their divorce)
* 1902 - 21,
* 1903 - Nosov House, Electrozavodskaya Street
* 1903 -
Mindovsky House, 44 Povarskaya Street(Embassy of New Zealand) [http://www.nzembassy.msk.ru/embassy_building/archit_features_ru.htm interior photographs]
* 1903-1904 -
Ponizovsky House, 42 Povarskaya Street(Embassy of Afghanistan)
* 1898 - 1907 - construction manager for
Hotel Metropol (Moscow), lead architect: William Walcot
* 1904 - 1906 - Isakov Apartment Building, 28 Prechistenka Street
* 1906 - Railway stations of
* 1906 - Interiors, Praga Restaurant (
Arbat Square) and Morozov House (Prechistenka Street)
* 1910 - expansion of
Yaroslavsky Rail Terminal
* 1911 - Rudnev Hospital, Serebryany Lane
* 1912 - Hospital near
*William Craft Brumfield, "The Origins of Modernism in Russian Architecture", University of California Press, 1991 [http://content.cdlib.org/xtf/view?docId=ft1g5004bj&brand=eschol contents] [http://content.cdlib.org/xtf/view?docId=ft1g5004bj&chunk.id=d0e2066&toc.id=&brand=eschol chapter 3]
New Zealandin Moscow homepage [http://www.nzembassy.msk.ru/index.html]
*Russian: List of publications by Kekushev: [http://snor.ru/?an=pers_169 www.snor.ru]
*Russian: Nikolay Kekushev's book: Кекушев, Н.Л., "Звериада", М, 1991 [http://www.sakharov-center.ru/asfcd/auth/auth_pages.xtmpl?Key=13515&page=159 online text and biography in Russian]
*Russian: Нащокина, Мария, "Архитекторы московского модерна", М, "Жираф", 2005, стр.236-253 ("Maria Naschokina")
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