chapter  5
20 Pages

The serial series: Iakov Chernikhov

The actual number of works preserved in the archives is hard to establish. The majority of the works have been collated in the Iakov Chernikhov Foundation in Moscow, which also curates exhibitions and organises architectural competitions. Reportedly, several hundreds of Chernikhov’s works were stolen from the Russian State archives in 1997, only some of which were subsequently recovered, after attempts to sell them in London. Chernikhov proclaimed privileging the visual: ‘Always and absolutely everywhere, replace the word by the graphic image’,3 implying an almost absolute belief, shared by other figures of the avant-garde, in visual communication above language. Despite his praise of graphics, as Cooke pointed out, Chernikhov wrote nearly as much as he drew. Nevertheless, this does little to diminish the exceptionally high quantity of his drawings. He originally started by teaching drawing in biology classes, literally producing them under the microscope. Shortage of paper and his experience of drawing with the aid of a magnifying glass led to Chernikhov soon establishing a small format for his drawings that enabled him to produce them quickly, and, importantly, in large quantity. The only ‘construction’ ever built following one of his designs was the water tower of the cable-making workshop for

the Krasniy Gvozdilshchik factory (1930-31) in St Petersburg.4 In the late 1920s to early 1930s, Chernikhov published a series of three books5 that helped to establish him as one of the leading forces in graphic and theoretical composition.