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2003/137/1 Plate, unglazed, earthenware, designed and made by Lazar Markovich Lissitzky, Germany, c. 1923. Click to enlarge.

Plate by Lazar Markovich Lissitzky

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 …


Object No.


Object Statement

Plate, unglazed, earthenware, designed and made by Lazar Markovich Lissitzky, Germany, c. 1923

Physical Description

A round plate made of heavy unglazed earthenware. Decorated in red enamel, sprayed in a stencil like manner (schablonendecor), with geometric motifs along the rim. Three red circles of differing sizes decorate one side of the plate. Two red curved rectangular bands, one short and one long, decorate the other side of the plate. The text 'Z 2864' is impressed on the base of the plate.


Inscription on base, impressed 'Z 2864'.



26 mm



Designed by El Lissitzky between 1922 and 1924. El Lissitzky (1890-1941) was a Russian painter, architect, designer and a pioneer of modern graphic design and typography. He grew up in Vitebsk and studied architecture at the Technische Hochschule (Polytechnic) in Darmstadt, Germany, between 1909 and 1914. In 1916, he received a diploma in engineering and architecture from the Riga Technological University. In 1919 he was appointed Professor of Architecture and Graphic Art at the newly reorganised art school in Vitebsk and began to collaborate with Kazimir Malevich in the Suprematist Unovis group. In the same year he began to make abstract pictures named Prouns (an acronym in Russian for 'project for the affirmation of the new') in which he extended the vocabulary of Suprematism so that the triangles, trapezia and circles of Malevich took on depth, solidity and textures suggestive of various materials. Part painterly part architectural and part graphic, Prouns became the source of Lissitzky's inventiveness and formed the basis of his subsequent typography, photography and book, ceramic, furniture, exhibition and poster design. (see Dict of Art, pp475-477)

In 1920 Lissitzky became a member of Inkhuk (Art and Culture Institute) in Moscow. The following year he taught at Vkhutemas (State Art and Technical Workshops) with Vladimir Tatlin and joined the Constructivist group.

Between December 1921 and January 1924 Lissitzky lived and worked in Germany becoming one of the three initial Constructivists in Berlin - the other two being Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Teo van Doesburg from the Dutch group De Stijl. As a member (together with van Doesburg) of the faction connected with the Constructivist 'G' journal, Lissitzky initially was reluctant to 'forge links between his formal concepts and the utilitarian objects' (Margolin, p,72). Inspired by the utopian dream of internationalism, he sought to develop a pictorial vocabulary of abstract forms that would be universal. In 1923 Lissitzky was diagnosed with tuberculosis and next year went to Switzerland for treatment which he supported with income from various commissions undertaken locally.

Back in Russia in 1925, Lissitzky found a new situation in the arts where, as a result of the New Economic Policy, arts had to be largely self-supporting. He resumed teaching at Vkhutemas, began to design commercials, magazines and worked on many state commissions. Most significant was his skyscraper for Moscow, designed in collaboration with Emil Roth, which expanded horizontally in the air to save space on the ground. In the 1930s Lissitzky was the Soviet Union's leading designer of publications and exhibitions. Lissitzky was influential internationally in a wide range of art and design practices, including Bauhaus.

Eva Czernis-Ryl


Credit Line

Purchased 2002

Acquisition Date

14 October 2003

Cite this Object


Plate by Lazar Markovich Lissitzky 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 22 October 2021, <>


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