Art & Artists / Exhibitions / Tatlin's Tower & Letatlin glider

Tatlin's Tower & Letatlin glider

14 October - 31 December 2021


Two striking sculptures inspired by Soviet painter and architect Vladimir Tatlin, formed part of The Russia Season at the Sainsbury Centre, alongside the Royal Fabergé and Radical Russia exhibitions.

Found close-by in the grounds and suspended above the East End Gallery, Tatlin's Tower and Letatlin glider provide startling examples of Russian avant-garde art, design and architecture.


Vladimir Tatlin’s Monument for the Third International is the latest addition to the Sainsbury Centre Sculpture Park.

Tatlin’s Tower, as it is known, was never built, but was a symbol of utopian vision from Revolutionary Russia. The steel-framed spiral design was intended to be a 400-metre monument in St Petersburg - taller than the Eiffel Tower.

The 10 metre scale model of the monument, recreated by architect Sir Jeremy Dixon using architectural drawings, was donated to us by the Royal Academy of Arts, and forms the centrepiece of our Russia Season.


Vladimir Tatlin built three versions of Letatlin between 1929 and 1932. Each version had a different weight and wingspan. The name Letatlin is a play on the artist’s surname combined with the Russian verb “to fly” (letat). 

The structures were full-size models of a human-powered flying apparatus, designed to improve everyday transportation. The key elements, constructed of mainly natural materials were based on organic forms, reflecting the bone structures and feathers of birds.

Tatlin envisioned his project would become an affordable consumer item, giving the people access to flying technology that would make airborne commutes as common as bicycle rides. Although Letatlin was never put into production, Tatlin continued working on the apparatus until his death in 1953.