LISSITZKY El
( 1890-1941). Russian painter; born in Smolensk; died in Moscow. He studied engineering at the Darmstadt technical school from 1909 to 1914. He then returned to Russia, where he was influenced by Malevitch and the Gonstructivists. In 1919 he began a series of drawings and paintings to which he gave the generic name Proun, a term he applied to all his work thereafter. In 1921 he was named professor at the Moscow Academy, but because of the growing hostility of the Government towards new art, he left his homeland in that same year for Germany. There he met Moholy-Nagy, with whom he became friendly, and on whom his influence became important. In 1922, in Berlin, he made the acquaintance of Theo van Doesburg, who published in Holland several months later a very curious Story of Two Squares, a set of six drawings that Lissitzky had composed in Russia in 1920. He worked with Hans Richter and published with him, in 1922 and 1923, the review G (Gestaltung). Then he went to Switzerland, where he created the group and review ABC. In 1925, in collaboration with Hans Arp, he published The Isms of Art. From 1925 to 1928 he was in Hanover at the invitation of the Kaestnergesellschaft. It was at this period that he did the interior decoration of the Modern room at the Landesmuseum, later destroyed by the Nazis. He then returned to Moscow, where he occupied himself mainly with organizing exhibitions of international art and publishing books for children. Lissitzky's very personal art (Proun) is based on a composite conception of space, of three-dimensional forms mingled with flat forms. No other Russian artist among those who were active in Central or Western Europe exercised such a radical influence on the course of art. This influence was felt, first of all, at the Bauhaus, through the teaching of MoholyNagy, who was named professor there in 1923.
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