El Lissitzky 1890–1941

Artist biography

El Lissitzky 1890-1941

Russian painter, typographer, architect and designer. Born in Polshinok and grew up in Vitebsk. Studied architecture at the Polytechnic in Darmstadt 1909-14, then returned to Moscow where he began to work in an architect's office. Also began in 1917 to illustrate Jewish books for children, at first in a style influenced by Chagall and popular prints. In 1919 appointed professor of architecture and applied art at the art school in Vitebsk, where Malevich was a colleague, and collaborated with him in the Unovis group. Began to make abstract pictures which he called Prouns, as 'the interchange station between painting and architecture'. Sent to Berlin in 1921 to establish contacts between artists in the USSR and Germany. Met Schwitters, Moholy-Nagy, van Doesburg and many others, and had his first one-man exhibition at the Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanover, 1923. Designed books and periodicals with radical innovations in typography and photomontage. Spent 1924-5 in Switzerland, then returned to Moscow. Did no further painting, but devoted himself mainly to designing periodicals and exhibition displays, including an exhibition room for the Landesmuseum, Hanover, and the Soviet pavilions for several international exhibitions. Died in Moscow.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.452