Eisenstein and Eisenstein

2 August 2011

Chunks of Riga’s new town were built quickly at the height of the gilded age of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the result is a dense concentration of art nouveau architecture. Many of the most flamboyant buildings were built by Mikhail Eisenstein, the Russian architect who graduated from St. Petersburg. At the time Riga was part of Tsarist Russia. The detail is the devil, and the façades of his buildings are full of details, each floor of each house decorated differently.

More unusually, there are more than half a dozen of his buildings in the space of about 500 metres, most of them in one street, Alberta Iela, where he designed five buildings in a row.

He was also the father of the great Soviet film director Sergei, who, it’s said, hated his father’s work. “My father must have had nightmares putting all that detail into his buidings”, he is reputed to have said.

One hardly has to be a Freudian analyst to see signs of the son’s rebellion: instead of deeply decorated buildings for a rich clientele, the son preached the simplicity of the cut and threw himself into the Soviet revolution.

The photographs on this post were taken by Andrew Curry. They are published here under a Creative Commons licence: some rights reserved.

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