Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The House That Nicolai Fechin Built

Earlier this week, I posted about the paintings of Nicolai Fechin. Another truly remarkable work of art by Fechin is the house and all of the furniture within.
In the early winter of 1927, the Fechin family acquired the property of Dr. and Mrs. Bergman, a Dutch couple who were returning to their native Holland. The Fechins moved into the house, located on the main street of Taos, Paseo del Pueblo Norte.
Nicolai planned, and the multi-lingual Alexandra communicated directions to masons from the Taos Pueblo. The Fechins' workmen removed all interior, non-load bearing walls and reconfigured the space. They doubled the size of the front porch and added a series of rooms that projected from what was once the central cube.
The final result was an asymmetrical adobe Pueblo and Mission Revival house, with twenty-four-inch walls. The Fechins created a wonderful home and a masterpiece of Southwest architecture that celebrated a marriage of the arts: painting, sculpture, drawing, and metalwork. The spaces within the home were sympathetic to Nicolai's art collections as well as his carvings of sculpture, furniture, and architectural ornament.
Despite the massiveness of the walls, Fechin carefully planned window openings. Their locations and shapes were important to accommodate the home's scenic surroundings, including the Sangre de Cristo Mountains under a high sky. He introduced intense light, which bathed textured "terra bayeta" walls and richly carved wood, into the interior through lancet and arched bay windows of rolled and beveled glass.
Working in his father's workshop as a youth provided training for Nicolai as a carver. He absorbed a variety of influences from his Russian heritage and also from his encounters with Native American and Hispanic cultures. Armed with mallet and chisel, he began carving columns, stair rails, vigas, doors, and furniture. With the local metal smith, he fashioned light fixtures, door pulls, and hinges. By 1933, Nicolai and Alexandra, with their workmen, had created one of the most exciting homes in Taos. Eya stated, "A Russian house evolved out of New Mexico mud."
Check out the images below:

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