NotesH. T. Wijdeveld (1885-1989) Dutch architect, writer, furniture designer, typographer and teacher.
El Lissitzky (born Lazar M Lissitzky, Smolensk province 1890: died Moscow 1941). Jewish. Russian architect, designer, draughtsman, illustrator, painter, photographer, printmaker, teacher and theorist.
Innovative in his use of photography, experimenting with 'cameraless images' (photograms), superimposition, photomontage and photocollage. Innovatively contributed his knowledge of engineering, architectural and graphic skills to his work (including axiometric drawing, which he used in a deliberately contradictory and inconsistent way to imply construction within the floating pictorial space that the Russian Suprematist Malevich had evolved). Through the teachings of Moholy-Nagy, Lissitzky exercised a radical influence at the Bauhaus. His architectural ideas were published in "Russland: Die Rekonstruktion der Architektur in der Sowjetunion' in 1930 (Eng translations London and Cambridge, MA 1970). Most significantly, his work provided no clear frontier between art and design.
1890-1918: Study and early graphic work
1917: Lissitzky involved in early Soviet attempts to formulate an art appropropriate to Communism. Involved in both the February and October revolutions. Became a member of the cultural department of the Moscow Soviet and later the Fine Arts Department of 'Narkompros'.
1919-1921: Became Professor of Graphic art and architecture at the newly reorganized People's School of Art in Vitebsk, Kiev (founded by Marc Chagall) through his involvement in Jewish culture. At Vitebsk, Lissitzky learnt about Suprematism in person from Malevich which transformed his attitudes and designs permanently. He immediately became committed to adapting Suprematist visual language into a politically committed means of communication and inventively incorporated language and geometric forms which suggested three-dimensional geometric objects to Suprematist ideas of geometry.
In 1919 Lissitsky coined the new word 'proun' to signify this innovative form of creative work where the existence of three-dimensional geometric objects could be implied within the framework of a Suprematist picture space thus suggesting construction. He extended the vocabulary of Suprematism so that the triangles, trapezia and circles of Malevic took on depth, solidity and textures suggestive of various materials. (Lissitzky's cover design for the 'Wendingen' magazine exemplifies Lissitzy's 'proun' form of creative work where the work illustrated is part painterly, part architectural and part graphic and capable of application in any of these fields of activity.)
1921-1941: Moved to Moscow in 1921. Became Professor of Architecture at Vkhutemas School of Art (coinciding with the emergence of Constructivism). Lissitzky's position was similar to but distinct from the Constructivists who sought to define creative activity in material and mathematical terms, replacing intuitive self expression with conscious experimental investigation designed ultimately to reorganize society along materialistic and Communistic lines (In 1921 they renounced easel painting in favour of politically committed or directly utilitarian design). While Lissitzky became a prolific designer of diverse projects and his output was increasingly public in concept, he differed in that he also made an astonishing number of contacts with Western artists in an attempt to establish an international network of compatible creative talents. During his travels he met and collaborated with Hans Arp, Kurt Schwitters, Man Ray, Hans Arp (Published with Hans Arp (Ed): 'Die Kunstismen' Zurich 1925 ('The Isms of Art' New York 1968/'Baden1990.)) and J.J.P. Oud, Gerrit Rietveld, Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg from the De Stijl group.
After 1926 Lissitzky became increasingly engaged in international trade exhibitions promoting a positive image of Soviet achievements.
References: The Dictionary of Art' Ed. Jane Turner, 1996; Larouse Encyclopedia of Modern Art, 1974; 'De Stijl 1917-1931' Carsten-Peter Warncke, Taschen 1991; 'El Lissitsky: Life.Letters.Texts' Sophie Lissitzky-Kuppers, Thames & Hudson, 1980.
'Wendingen' (1918-1931) was the periodical of the Amsterdam School (a group of Expressionist artists and craftsworkers active mainly in Amsterdam 1915-c1930). Magazine published in The Netherlands
Issue No 11,1921 (Identified as 1922 in 'Dictionary of Art', 1923 in ''El Lissitzky' but original publication indicates the actual volume is No 11, 1921)
Marlijn F. Le Coultre, Wendingen: A Journal for the Arts 1918-1932, Princeton Architecture Press, New York, 2001