El Lissitzky

El Lissitzky

Style: Constructivism, The Style

Lived: November 23, 1890 - December 30, 1941 (20th century)

Nationality: Russia

Lazar Markovich Lissitzky, (November 23, 1890 – December 30, 1941), better known as El Lissitzky, was a Russian artist, designer, photographer, typographer, polemicist and architect. He was an important figure of the Russian avant garde, helping develop suprematism with his mentor, Kazimir Malevich, and designing numerous exhibition displays and propaganda works for the former Soviet Union. His work greatly influenced the Bauhaus and constructivist movements, and he experimented with production techniques and stylistic devices that would go on to dominate 20th century graphic design.

El Lissitzky's entire career was laced with the belief that the artist could be an agent for change, later summarized with his edict, "das zielbewußte Schaffen" (goal-oriented creation). A Jew, he began his career illustrating Yiddish children's books in an effort to promote Jewish culture in Russia, a country that was undergoing massive change at the time and that had just repealed its anti-semitic laws. When only 15 he started teaching; a duty he would stay with for most of 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 heading the suprematist art group UNOVIS, when he developed a variant suprematist series of his own, Proun, and further still in 1921, when he took up a job as the Russian cultural ambassador to Weimar Germany, working with and influencing important figures of the Bauhaus and De Stijl movements during his stay.


PROUN

Lissitzky proceeded to develop a variant suprematist style of his own, a series of abstract Abstract art, geometric painting Paintings which he called Proun . Proun was essentially Lissitzky's exploration of the visual language of suprematism with spatial elements, utilizing shifting axes and multiple perspectives; both uncommon ideas in suprematism. Suprematism at the time was conducted almost exclusively in flat, 2D Dimension forms and shapes, and Lissitzky, with a taste for architecture and other 3-dimensional Dimension concepts, tried to expand suprematism beyond this. His Proun works, spanned over a half a decade and evolved from straightforward paintings and lithograph Lithographys into fully 3-dimensional installations. They would also lay the foundation for his later experimentations in architecture and exhibition design. While the paintings were artistic in their own right, their use as a staging ground for his early architectonic ideas was significant. In these works, the basic elements of architecture — volume, mass, color, space and rhythm — were subjected to a fresh formulation in relation to the new suprematist ideals.



In his remaining years he brought significant innovation and change to typography, exhibition design, photomontage, and book design, producing critically respected works and winning international acclaim for his exhibition design. This continued until his deathbed, where in 1941 he produced one of his last works — a Soviet propaganda poster rallying the people to construct more tanks for the fight against Nazi Germany.

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