Despite the fact that it was never realized at full scale, Vladimir Tatlin's long-lost model for his Monument to the Third International (1920) remains to this day the most widely known work of the Soviet avant-garde. A visionary proposal for a four-hundred-meter tower in iron and glass conceived at the height of the Russian Civil War, the monument was to house the headquarters of the Third International, or Comintern, the international organization of Communist, socialist, and other left-wing parties and workers' organizations founded in Moscow in the wake of the October Revolution with the objective of fomenting revolutionary agitation abroad. Constructed in his spacious Petrograd studio, which was once the mosaics workshop of the imperial Academy of Art, Tatlin's approximately 1:80 scale model comprises a skeletal wooden armature of two upward-moving spirals and a massive diagonal girder, within which are stacked four revolving geometrical volumes made out of paper, these last set in motion by means of a rotary crank located underneath the display platform. In the proposed monument-building, these volumes were to contain the Comintern's legislature, executive branch, press bureau, and radio station. According to the later recollection of Tevel' Schapiro, who assisted Tatlin in his construction of the model, two large arch spans at ground level were designed so that the tower could straddle the banks of the river Neva in Petrograd, the birthplace of the 1917 revolutions.

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