Lazar Lisitskii

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lisitskii, Lazar’ Markovich


(also El Lisitskii, El Lissitzky). Born Nov. 10 (22), 1890, in the village of Pochinok, in present-day Smolensk Oblast; died Dec. 30, 1941, in Moscow. Soviet architect, designer, and graphic artist.

From 1909 to 1914, Lisitskii studied in the department of architecture at the Technische Hochschule in Darmstadt (now in the Federal Republic of Germany). He attended the Riga Polytechnic Institute in Moscow in 1915 and 1916. He taught at the People’s Art School in Vitebsk (1919–20), the Moscow Vkhutemas (Higher State Arts and Technical Studios, 1921), and the Moscow Vkhutein (Higher Art and Technical Institute, from 1926). Lisitskii became a member of Inkhuk (Institute of Artistic Culture) in 1920. The draft for Lenin’s Tribune was executed in the artist’s studio between 1920 and 1924. Lisitskii lived in Germany and Switzerland from 1921 to 1925. He was associated with the Dutch de Stijl group. Lisitskii prepared for his architectural work with a series of experimental designs known as the Prouny (Projects for the Affirmation of the New, 1919–24), in which he resolved problems of the vertical zoning of urban construction. From 1923 to 1925, he designed “horizontal skyscrapers” for Moscow. During the 1920’s he participated in Asnova (Association of New Architects) and in a number of architectural competitions. Lisitskii’s designs from this period include the House of Textiles (1925, Moscow), the Pravda complex (1930, Moscow), and residential complexes in Ivanovo-Voznesensk (1926).

Working in the suprematist style, Lisitskii did a number of agitation posters, for example, Beat the Whites With the Red Wedge! (1920). He also designed multipurpose and built-in furniture (1928–29). He set forth new principles for the organization of exhibitions, which he viewed as unified entities (the Soviet pavilions at foreign exhibitions, 1925–34; the All-Union Poly-graphical Exhibition in Moscow, 1927). He also introduced new principles for stage design. In book design, Lisitskii developed the method of treating a book as an art form, using ornamentation sparingly, juxtaposing contrasting type, using new means of printing (such as photomechanical methods), and exploring the possibilities of photomontage (designs for Mayakovsky’s All Right!, for the journal The USSR in Construction, and for a number of photo albums [1930’s]).


Russland: Architektur für eine Weltrevolution. Berlin, 1965.


Iskusstvo knigi, no. 3. 1958–60. [Moscow, 1962.] Pages 145–68.
Lissitzky-Küppers, S. El Lissitzky .... Dresden, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.