El Lissitzky (1890 – 1941) Russian artist and architect

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New man, 1923 by El Lissitzky
New man, 1923 by El Lissitzky

Suprematism and De Stijl

El Lissitzky was a Russian-born designer and artist who was linked with various MODERNIST organisations, including Suprematism and DE STIJL.


He studied architecture at the Technische Hochschule in Darmstadt from 1909 to 1914 and Riga Polytechnic from 1915 to 1916.


Before returning to Russia in 1915 and becoming an enthusiastic supporter of the Revolution, Lissitzky studied at Darmstadt (under Josef OLBRICH) and met Henri VAN DE VELDE. In the early Soviet regime’s modernism, he became connected with Kasimir Malevich and Vladimir Tatlin. He moved to Switzerland in 1924 but returned to Moscow in 1925 to work on various exhibition projects in a constructivist style. He had a significant impact on modern typography and graphic design. After 1930, he focused solely on teaching. His transparent PLASTIC chair from 1930 is a stunning early example of the material.

Announcer (Ansager) from Figurines by El Lissitzky
Announcer (Ansager) from Figurines by El Lissitzky


At the 1917 ‘V mire iskusstv’ (‘World of Art’) exhibition in Petrograd, he displayed his ornamental paintings titled The Leader and Jericho. He took part in various exhibitions in Russia and abroad, including the ‘Erste Russische Kunstausstellung,’ Berlin, in 1922. Exhibitions of his work were held in 1976 in Cologne, Galerie Gmurzynska in Cologne, and 1977 at the Oxford Museum of Modern Art.


Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Pile, J. F. (1990). Dictionary of 20th-century design. Facts on File.

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