Proun 19D | El Lissitzky | 1922
Lazar Márkovich Lissitzky is born in Saint Petersburg in 1890. He is the artist we are going to talk about today.
In his teenage years, he applies to attend the local school of art, but he was rejected despite approving the entrance examination. The reason? El Lissitzky was jewish and only a small number of jews, set by the czarist government, was allowed to follow upper studies. Because of this disappointment, he decides to migrate towards Germany, as many Russians of his time, to pursuit a career in architecture.
The first war begins and he is forced to return to Russia, as well as Kandisnky from Germany and Chagall from France; but this time, Lissitzky moves to Moscow.
He starts with a series of abstract paintings named Proun (from russian “Proekt utverzhdenia novoga” or “Design for the confirmation of the new”), which explored the existent relation between the formal concerns of the bidimensional paintings and the architectural construction. Whatever this means, because, to be honest, I cannot fully grasp the idea. Lissitzky is going to define the Proun as “an intermediate state between painting and architecture”, which doesn’t clarify the concept to me and keeps making it more twisted than before. However, I dare to say that the Proun suggest to explore the bidimensionality of the painting in relation to the tridimensionality of the architecture. Sounds more or less logical, right? 😉
In short, Proun 19D is considered the most representative painting of the series and, although is an oil painting, the different volumes of the figures seem to superimpose and float in the air one on top of the other, which is not common with this type of paint.
Although I like a lot abstract art and Russians in general, this work is not one of my favorites…
After some time, Lissitzky is going to contribute in different fields such us design, photography, teaching and a lot more. He dies in Moscow in 1941 doing an advertising campaign for the people to help voluntarily building tanks for the Red Army to fight nazi Germany. Like this, he dies honoring an idea he kept throughout his life that says that the artist is an agent of social change.