Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas


El Lissitzky: Futurist Portfolios
  • El Lissitzky: Futurist Portfolios
  • 02-Feb-2008 - 18-May-2008
  • South Balcony, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

The influential Russian abstract painter, designer, teacher and graphic artist, El (Lazar) Morduchovitch Lissitzky (1890-1941) was the first of his generation to visualize a new radical geometry of space and movement that blurred the boundaries of architecture, painting, and typography.

This exhibition features two complete sets of El Lissitzky’s futuristic portfolios commissioned by the Kestner Society in 1923, 20 prints in all. His Proun (the Latin acronym for “design for the confirmation of the new”) portfolio was intended as a prototype for future mechanical and architectural designs while Victory over the Sun commemorates Kasimir Malevich’s 1913 futurist opera of the same name. Among the greatest achievements in the graphic arts of the 20th century, these portfolios served to establish Lissitzky’s reputation as a master of modern design.

Between 1923 and 1928, El Lissitzky transformed his Prouns into a three dimensional experience, building so-called “abstract rooms.” Lissitzky’s visionary designs for wall-sized abstractions will inspire the design and installation of a Proun room at each venue of the exhibition. Thanks to the careful study and interpretation of contemporary artist Hideyo Okamura, who will paint and construct his designs on site, visitors will be able to experience the gravity-defying sensation of El Lissitzky’s geometric shapes and linear vectors wrapping around corners and launching to the ceiling.

El Lissitzky: Futurist Portfolios is organized by The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.