Broken symmetry in Taganskaya

Taganskaya is a beautiful station on the brown n.5 Koltsevaya Line (circular line) of the Moscow Metro. Designed by architects K. Ryzhkov and A. Medvedev, the station opened on 1 January 1950.

It was built with the post-war flamboyance in mind, and if you are interested on this architectural style, you can find more infos and the most egregious example of Stalinist architecture in my previous post on the Moscow State University building and Moscow’s Seven Sisters. The overall station design is based on the traditional Russian motives in decorations. The central feature are 48 maiolica panels located on each face of the pylon. These contain floral elements, surrounding profile bas-reliefs of various World War II Red Army & Navy servicemen each dedicated to a group such as pilots, tank crews, sailors and so on. The one pictured above is the profile of a young airman.

The platform hall panels are monochromatic, while the ones facing the central hall are on a blue majolica background, the same blue majolica that graces the center of the 12 glided chandeliers illuminating the hall . The remaining decoration of the station include a cream-coloured ceramic tile on the walls, powder coloured marble on the lower pylons and also on the walls, and a checkerboard floor layout of black and gray granite.

As it is often the case, parts of this station changed over time to reflect a different political climate in the former USSR. The end of the central hall once had a large sculptural group Stalin and youth, however this was replaced in 1961 (in the period following Kruschev’s denunciation of Stalin) by a new artwork of the same authors (P. Baladin and Ye. Blinova) depicting Vladimir LeninCoats of arms of the Soviet Republics and images of Hero Cities: LeningradStalingradSevastopol and OdessaThis was also taken down only five years later, to make way for a transfer to the newly opened Taganskaya of the Zhdanovskaya Line. This was also a departure from Stalin’s priorities on iconography and symbols, a move toward a more “form follows function” interpretation of public spaces in the Soviet Union. Finally, on 18 November 2005 the vestibule was closed for restoration, during which old escalators (installed in 1949) were replaced and the station was re-opened on 20 December 2006.

Photo tip!
I am always drawn to capture symmetry in my architectural images. I really like when an image comes together with even “added” symmetry (the two men, both dressed in dark colours, almost black, visible in the arches on the platform, waiting for the train. However I am disturbed by “imperfect” symmetry, when there is an element that doesn’t “fit” because it differs from the corresponding one on another part of the photo. In this case the marble on the left of the majolica panel is very yellowish, while the one on the right is almost neutral grey. In this case, rather than settle for an “imperfect” symmetry, I try to go for a purposefully “broken symmetry” by adding one or more elements that break the pattern in a maybe subtle, but meaningful way. In this case I was lucky enough to find a young girl reading on the left of bench (I did not ask her to pose for me) and she was still enough as not to get blurred by the 1 second exposure (contrary to the man walking to the platform, on the left of the image).

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, here’s a list of the other Moscow Metro stations I’ve already talked about (and shown pictures of!) here on the blog:

If you are planning to visit Moscow and you’d like a tour of the best metro stations, accompanied by a photographer and a native speaker (myself and my wife), do get in touch and we’ll make this plan come to life!

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