El Lissitzky

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photo of Lissitzky as a young man, taken by himself
Self-portrait 1914
Book cover design by Lissitzky
Book cover by Lissitzky, 1922
constructivist artwork by Lissitzky
Proun 19D: a constructivist work by El Lissitzky, 1922? Now in MOMA, New York

Lazar Markovich Lissitzky [1] (23 November [O.S. November 11] 1890 – 30 December 1941), better known as El Lissitzky, was a Russian artist, designer, photographer, typographer, and architect.

He was an important figure of the Russian avant-garde, helping develop suprematism with his mentor, Kazimir Malevich. He designed exhibition displays and propaganda works for the former Soviet Union. His work greatly influenced the Bauhaus and constructivist movements, and he experimented with techniques and ideas ine 20th-century graphic design.[2]

El Lissitzky's entire career was based on his belief that the artist could be an agent for change.[3] Lissitzky, who was Jewish, began his career illustrating Yiddish children's books. This was to promote Jewish culture in Russia, which had just ended its antisemitic laws. He started teaching at 15; and taught throughout his life. Over the years, he taught in a variety of positions, schools and artistic media, spreading and exchanging ideas.

He took this ethic with him when he worked with Malevich in the art group UNOVIS and when he worked his own. He took up a job as the Russian cultural ambassador to Weimar Germany. There he worked with important figures of the Bauhaus and De Stijl movements. In his remaining years he brought innovation and change to typography, exhibition design, photomontage, and book design. He produced critically respected works and won international acclaim for his exhibition design. This continued to the end of his life. In 1941 he produced one of his last works – a Soviet propaganda poster rallying the people to make more tanks for the fight against Nazi Germany.

References[change | edit source]

  1. Russian: Ла́зарь Ма́ркович Лиси́цкий
  2. Curl, James Stevens 2006. A dictionary of architecture and landscape architecture. 2nd ed, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-860678-8
  3. Glazova, Anna (2003). "El Lissitzky in Weimar Germany". Speaking in Tongues. The Magazine of Literary Translation. http://spintongues.msk.ru/glazova27eng.htm. Retrieved 2008-10-01.
poster with a red triangle entering a white circle
Famous pro-communist propaganda poster by Lissitzky: Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge