Man is gifted with fathomlessly great powers of creativity. Time-honored masterpieces of art, literature and architecture show us glimpses not only of the creative fertility of his mind but also of his aesthetic refinement. Actually, the human race appears to have an innate liking for beautiful things. This is why humankind seeks to create aesthetically pleasing things in the world and wondrously beautiful works of art, and architecture gives people inner satisfaction. This is what Ezra Pound means when he says, “A real building is one on which the eye can light and stay lit.” Thus, mankind tries to shape buildings which can engage our eyes and appreciation. Therefore, we see that Florence, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, Shanghai and Moscow abound in marvelous architectural monuments which have inspired awe and admiration among generations of tourists. Of all these cities known for their architectural worth, Moscow is unique because its architecture mirrors not only its culture but history (from Before the Christian era down to modern times) as well. So, let us talk to a person who tries to portray the beautiful architecture in his photographs.
Yuri Degtyarev is a a lover of Russian architecture. He was born in Moscow in 1981. He has lived all his life in the Teply Stan in Moscow. He is a self-taught photographer who sells modern photographic equipment. He is not materialistic. Living in the city of billionaires has not made him money-minded. He laments, 'Unfortunately in today's world, most people tend to go after material wealth and see this wealth only in the quantity of money, forgetting that true wealth is in our families, children. Wealth can be spiritual, it can be in knowledge as well'. Yuri is happy when he is with his family. He says that the things which make him joyous are: ‘My family. My wife and daughter. This is the most important thing for me and this is my happiness’. He regards his family his ‘true wealth’. In his life, Yuri tries to be optimistic. When he has time, he likes to exchange jokes with people. He says that life is short and he has ‘a lot to catch’. One of the things that he wants to ‘catch’ is the architectural beauty of Moscow.
When there is a holiday, he sets out early in the morning because ‘at this time the town is abandoned, peaceful and tranquil and that's what I like most and try to portray’. Our photographer's love for architecture is reflected in his photo collections which contain beautiful images of the Moscow's marvelous architectural masterpieces.
Talking about his photos, he says, ‘I mainly shoot urban landscapes, landmarks, architecture, interiors’. He has always been fascinated by the visually gripping building designs in Moscow. He thinks that architecture is an art, ‘Mankind has created unique structures, because any building can be called a work of art’. He further says, ‘I really like how in big cities the architecture of the Middle Ages and modernity, the architecture of the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution are all interwoven’. Actually, Moscow has been under desperate and revolutionary times. Moscow reflects the revolutionary ethos of Russian history and culture. In other words, Russian architecture shows diverse influences: religion, monarchy and communism.
Classical architecture in Moscow is primarily religious. This is why we see there religious buildings with multitudes of brightly painted onion domes. According to some sources, these onion domes symbolize burning candles. Some buildings have a single such dome , others feature three of tem and still others have five or more than five domes. There bell-shaped one and there are domes with bulbous shapes. They have green, black, blue and golden colors. One example of such buidling is the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin (St. Basil's Cathedral), which Yuri photographed in 2011 when the preparations for an international festival of light were underway
The Kremlin is an important architectural monument in Moscow. Kremlin means ‘citadel’ or ‘fortress’. Historians trace its origin in the second century BC. In the mediaeval times the Kremlin was a walled city situated on a hill in Moscow. With the passage of time, the city extended beyond the walled boundary and went across the river.
The walled citadel has witnessed the tsar period, Times of Troubles, the Polish occupation, the Soviet period, riots, celebrations and upheavals. Today, the fortified complex houses the official residence of the Russian president, palaces, cathedrals and the Kremlin towers. This world-renown structure occupies an important position in Russian politics. We may call it the ‘White House’ of Russia.
The walls and towers of today’s Kremlin, which stands near the Red Square, were built by Italian architects in the 15th century A.D. The Red Square is flanked by several other monuments of architecture. The State Historical Museum is one them.
It is a museum of Russian history. It showcases millions of historic objects such as relics of ancient tribes, royal collections, and more.
The building of the museum is built in Moscow Baroque style and Sherwood's neo-Russian design.
Another architectural monument is Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building. The skyscraper was completed in 1952. It is built in Stalinist style.
The buildings and towers are together called Stalin’s Seven Sisters . The buildings were intended to be ‘the Palace of the Soviets’ surpassing the grandeur of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The buildings stand as the masterpiece of Soviet architecture. Yuri is in the opinion that the Soviet Union should have continued. He says, 'I sometimes regret that the Soviet Union has ceased to exist. After all, it was not such a problem'. But, all of us know that change is a permanent feature of life on the earth. The world has been going through isms and paradigms for centuries and we don't know how many more are there in the future for us.
Of course, we should not forget here Moscow Metro, a great architectural project of the Russian city. This drastic solution to the problem of public transportation, is one of the most heavily used rapid transit system that runs for more than 300 km and houses 188 stations. It is nearly 80-year-old. It is called an underground museum of Russian history and architecture. There are stations which are as grand as palaces. Stalin wanted the architects and proletarian labor to build the stations in such a way that the design should symbolize radiance and the sun. So as you move from station to station and witness the architecture, the picture of the Lenin history unfolds itself. There are structures of marble, granite, iron and glass which reflect the changing times the transit system witnessed.
For instance, Mayakovskaya (Russian: Маяковская), is one of the stations of the Moscow Metro station.
Yuri Degtyarev informs us that it is ‘on the Zamoskvoretskaya Line, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the system, it is a fine example of pre-World War II Stalinist Architecture and one of the most famous Metro stations in the world. The name and design refer to Futurism and its prominent Russian exponent Vladimir Mayakovsky. The station was built as part of the second stage of the Moscow Metro expansion, opening on 11 September 1938’.
Elektrozavodskaya is another station, which Yuri informs us is ‘on the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line. It is one of the most spectacular and better-known stations of the system.
He tells us that 'it was built as part of the third stage of the Moscow Metro and opened on 15 May 1944. Named after the electric light bulb factory nearby, the preliminary layout included Schuko's idea of making the ceiling covered with six rows of circular incandescent inset lamps (of which there were 318 in total)’. Certainly we cannot exhaust the architectural richness of all the stations.
The Bolshoi Theatre (Big Theatre) is another world-renowned historic monument of architecture captured by Yuri.
It is an historic theatre in Moscow which was originally designed by architect Joseph Bove. However, the current building was built by Andrei Mikhailov. It was built in the early 19th century. It is situated on Theatre Square and is known for performances of ballet and opera. The neoclassical façade has become an icon of Russian culture.
So far we have seen the architectural monuments which express the ambitions, desires, wishes and dreams of monarchs, religious authorities, communists and artists. Now, let us look at a monument which shows the sorrows of people whose lives remain in the background of social and political upheavals. It is one called ‘Grieving Mothers’. Yuri explains that this monument was built in the memory of the Muscovites who died in Afghanistan between 1979-1989.
He tells us that it was built jointly by sculptors and architects, namely, VA Siddur, A. Posin, P. Grigoriev and Vadim Sidur.
The Shrine of St. George on Poklonnaya Hill in honor of the Victory in Great Patriotic War (World War II), the Moscow State University, the Ostankino TV and Radio tower and various bridges in the city such as Big Stone Bridge, the Cast-iron bridge and Komissariatsky bridge are some of the other architectural monuments captured by Yuri Degtyarev.
Yuri Degtyarev's collection of Moscow’s architecture is so rich that it is difficult to mention all the places that he has captured with his camera. It is his passion to document the architectural beauty of his native city. The richness of his photographic collections shows his dedication to his passion. Capturing these elegant works allows him 'to forget about the problems in life'. He wants to maintain a record of the treasured architecture of cities. This helps him better understand people, places and cultures. Now, his quest to catch architectural splendor is taking him outside Russia. He says, ‘In the summer of 2013 my wife and I are planning to travel from Moscow to Rome, through the Bratislava and Venice by car. I hope this trip will bring a lot of successful pictures’.