An architect and graphic designer, El Lissitzky (1890-1941) was among the most important Russian artists to influence Modernism and one of the great avant-garde figures of the 20th century.
His lifetime involvement with abstract art began in 1919 soon after he met the Suprematist artist Kazimir Malevich (see the 'Design' section for a summary of his artistic development and achievements). Between December 1921 and January 1924 he lived and worked in Germany and in 1924 was being treated for tuberculosis in Switzerland. Although initially reluctant to apply his distinctive pictorial vocabulary to utilitarian objects, it is during that time that his abstract pictures known as Prouns began to inform Lissitzky's designs for a group of ceramics. Soon Prouns were also to become the source of his typography, photography and book, furniture and poster design.
This boldly coloured plate is one of the relatively rare examples of Lissitzky's ceramics. Examples of plates for the same series comprising plates of different sizes can be found in the Sammlung Ludewig in Berlin, National Museum in Nuremberg, Deutsches Museum in Munich, Australian National Gallery in Canberra and in other collections.