Jan 26, 2016

First Kestner Portfolio Proun

First Kestner Portfolio Proun


El Lissitzky

(Russian, 1890–1941)

Color lithograph

Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1995.3



Lissitzky studied architectural engineering in Germany between 1909 and 1914, but returned to Russia at the outbreak of World War I. He embraced the Russian Revolution enthusiastically and in 1919 was appointed professor of Architecture and Graphic Art at the People's Art School in Vitebsk. Kasimir Malevich (1878-1935) also joined the faculty and Lissitzky rapidly assimilated Malevich's revolutionary Suprematist language of abstract, geometrical forms floating in space.

Lissitzky's Proun compositions (the term Proun was an invention---an abbreviation for "Project for the affirmation of the new" in Russian) were meant to represent "the interchange station between painting and architecture," something that "goes beyond painting and the artist on the one hand and the machine and the engineer on the other, and advances to the construction of space...[creating] a new, many-faceted unity as a formal representation of our nature." Frustrated by the flatness of two-dimensional supports, Lissitzky wanted the surface of a work to be like a construction that can be seen from all sides. The Prouns offer rotating perspectives in which the spatial limitations of the paper have been overcome.

See also
PR - Lithograph
Type of artwork: 

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