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After an exhibition in Hanover in 1923, El Lissitzky was commissioned to make some prints. Among these was a series of ten figures, based on watercolours he had made for the avant-garde opera 'Victory over the Sun'. The opera was originally created by the playwright Alexei Kruchenykh, Kasimir Malevich and the composer Mikhail Matyushin in 1913. The sun is replaced as a source of energy by technological supremacy. In 1920 it was revived as a piece of mechanical theatre in Vitebsk, where both Malevich and El Lissitzky taught. Although El Lissitzky's work was almost entirely abstract by the early 1920s, here he retained something of the human anatomy, to illustrate the different types of modern man.

August 2004