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"El Lissitzky" Tag


A Printed Book History 15 : Universal Communication


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Als ik terug denk aan Vrijdag 11 mei, 13.20, UVA special collections, alleen en de laatste dag van de expositie “The Printed Book A Visual History” komt het werk van El Lissitzky als eerste op in mijn gedachten. Niet alleen vanwege mijn voorliefde voor het Russische alphabet, maar ook de simpele en moderne typografie en de duidelijkheid van het bericht dat wordt doorgegeven. Ik spreek geen woord Russisch maar toch is het boek zo begrijpelijk en universeel.

De karakters worden in sommige gevallen zo vergroot dat het abstracte vormen of illustraties worden. Evenals in de Thumb-index aan de rechterkant van de paginas worden de letters als symbolen gebruikt.  Een boek geschreven door de Poët Vladimir Mayakovsky met de titel “Dlya golosa” (For the Voice) uit het jaar 1923.
Mayakovski wordt gezien als een dichter die zijn tijd ver vooruit was, hoe El lissitzky daarop heeft gereageerd vind ik erg goed. Beide hadden ze een moderne abstracte visie op hun werk.

Dit werk heeft mij geholpen en geinspireerd om een opdracht voor school (Sculpture) te vervolgen waarin communicatie heel belangrijk was. Het versimpelen van bepaalde factoren was uiteindelijke het belangrijke aandachtspunt.

post by Jessy van Dinther

 

De Stijl


Friday, November 25, 2011

Dutch periodical founded by Theo Van Doesburg in 1917 and published in Leiden until 1932; the name was also applied from the 1920s to a distinctive movement and to the group of artists associated with it. The periodical’s subtitle, Maandblad voor de beeldende vakken (Monthly Journal of the Expressive Professions), indicates the range of artists to which it was appealing, and van Doesburg’s intention was that it be a platform for all those who were concerned with a new art: painters, sculptors, architects, urban planners, typographers, interior designers etc.

Proponents of De Stijl sought to express a new utopian ideal of spiritual harmony and order. They advocated pure abstraction and universality by a reduction to the essentials of form and colour; they simplified visual compositions to the vertical and horizontal directions, and used only primary colours along with black and white.

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Piet Mondrian, Composition with Yellow, Red, Black, Blue and Grey

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(more…)

Leegte.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Als ik denk aan een expositie bezoeken dan krijg ik bijna een onbehagelijk gevoel van binnen. De gedachten aan zoveel verschillende werken, die elk weer een andere betekenis hebben; die elkaar doorkruisen zodra je even niet oplet; die mijn gedachten zullen openbreken zodra ik die niet aan zoveel mogelijk kanten bij mij houd. Het is bijna een soort angst als ik de grote ruimtes binnenloop en mijn blik valt op al het werk.

Ik wil geen entertainment van beelden. Ik wil een leegte. Een leegte van het hedendaagse; van de toekomst; van hetgeen de mens omschrijft. Dat is waar ik mijn rust in vind; mijn gedachten kan laten focussen op de kleine (menselijke) details waar de massa zelden de schoonheid van zal ervaren. Leven binnen mijn eigen ruimte, waar ik een stilte creëer waarnaar ik de kleinste dingen opspoor binnen het visuele om mij heen. Daar zit de adrenaline die mijn brein laat samenwerken met mijn ogen. Binnen de kunst ben in dan ook constant opzoek naar werken die een grote leegte bij mij opwekken.

El Lissitzky met zijn expositie over het theaterstuk ‘Victory of the Sun’ in Eindhoven. Ik heb mij zelden zo opgelaten gevoeld over een nieuwe ruimte binnenlopen in een expositie. Na elke doorgang zag ik werken die mijn hoofd vulde met leegte en vervolgens mijn gedachtes volledig zijn eigen weg lieten gaan. Strakke vormen; hoeken; lijnen; bijna kille afbeeldingen van een mechanische wereld van vormen die, volgens de beschrijving, op mensen gebaseerd zijn. Op afstand alleen het strakke, dynamisch-ogende uiterlijk zien om vervolgens het menselijke terug te vinden in de kleinste details; de fouten. Van veraf zo perfect, maar van dichtbij zo menselijk.

Ik weet nu wat ik wil. Ik wil die grens. Perfectie en fouten maken. En vooral die fouten laten zien.

A “simple” construction


Saturday, March 5, 2011

As a student who already was aware of which direction to choose before applying to the Rietveld my trip to the Van Abbe Museum was no eye opener on that point. Being raised by artist parents and Bauhaus principles in the country side of Denmark I found huge inspiration in the El Lissitzky exhibition well knowing that I want to become a Graphic Designer.

Most of the works of Lissitzky seemed to be constructed out of different objects and colors. Two or three dimensional there was a huge understanding of aesthetics with great influences from the Bauhaus generation. Unlike most of my fellow students who thought Lissitszky was too Russian, constructed, cold and straight eyed I saw great playfullness, movement and joy  (experiments) in the works. Me having a little knowledge in the field of printing I could see that the artist had explored what was possible at that time. I immidiately identified my self with the way I use basic html like color boxes, strokes and helvetica when working with web design. The lack of knowledge or technology is not always a limitation but can also be a huge gift which removes superfluous decoration and focuses on the main idea behind the work. The way he constructs with distinctive geometric forms in layers and makes it look quite simple, even though everything is put in the best way possible, was very impressing. I kept seeing references to cubism and futurism in his sketches which I also seem to have in my drawing. The picture underneath sums up what I have said, with a very simplified illustration that is constructed like both informative text and illustration this silkscreened illustration has references to the beginning where Lissitzky designed children books.

Victory Over The Sun


Thursday, June 10, 2010

"Visual interpretation of Victory Over The Sun [click image for movie]

“Victory over the Sun” is a Russian Futurist opera premiered in 1913 at the Luna Park in Saint Petersburg.

The libretto written in zaum language was contributed by Aleksei Kruchonykh, the music was written by Mikhail Matyushin, the prologue was added by Velimir Khlebnikov, and the stage designer was Kasimir Malevich. The performance was organized by the artistic group Soyuz Molodyozhi.

The opera has become famous as the event where Malevich made his first “Black Square” painting.

The opera was intended to underline parallels between literary text, musical score, and the art of painting, and featured a cast of such extravagant characters as Nero and Caligula in the Same Person, Traveller through All the Ages, Telephone Talker, The New Ones, etc.

The audience reacted negatively and even violently to the performance, as have some subsequent critics and historians.”

revolution


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Multiplicity of forms and emptiness (pure form) always gives me the same feeling of infinity.
Somehow I would like to say that 0 = ?.
The choice between horror vacui and amor vacui seems to be a rhetoric question. Is there any difference between a clump of grass and a smooth white stone?

Everything around us is organized in some kind of rhythmic replication. Lives on a three, hairs, names and numbers in the telephone book. Each of the chemical elements is a pattern integrity. Each individual is a pattern integrity.
Replications and emptiness seem to have the same quality to me.
But what is more natural (neutral) for human beings?
Probably emptiness.

Many people believes that simple-form, cheap mass products can make the working class happy. Designers and craftsman tried to realize that dream. One of them was nineteenth-century wallpaper designer, painter, poet and writer William Morris. But what has he to do with the hero of ours essays El Lissitytzky?
I discover a lot of links… They both believe that art is a way to change human reality. They want to change society and they were both left wing oriented.

Now we know, their ideals failed. William Morris was not radical enough and El Lissitzky was too much. First of all, they didn’t think about the economical aspect of design and basic human needs. Secondly they didn’t take into consideration that avant-garde design can be too hermetic for most members of the society.

I appreciate the work of the russian costructivist, but I can not realy imagine that I would try to do something so simple and uncompromising like they did. If I would combine architectonical clearness of Lissitzky with birds, flowers and colors I could find some new solution for common people?
For me, patterns are the essence of beauty. Maybe the next revolution should be a revolution of patterns. Although ideals never come true they can stay forever – good design.

interacting elements in El Lissitzky’s Proun period


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What fascinated me in the exposition is how El Lissitzky redesigned Malevich’s opera, Victory over the Sun.

Victory over the Sun was a futurist opera premiered in 1913. The costume and set design was done by the Russian artist Kazimir Malevich. The futurist opera couldn’t succeed as the suprematist techniques were pretty new. The audience reacted negatively and violently to the performance.

What happened afterwards is that following the Russian revolution, El Lissitzky worked with Malevitch for a new version of the opera as an electro-mechanical show. Lissitzky transformed Malevich’s black and red squares into figures constructed of transparent prisms and metallic rods, bending and receding in space. He created a typography specially for the libretto. Most importantly, he transformed the old costumes into new robotic figurines/figures.

The new version of Victory over the Sun was closer to El Lissitzky’s Proun principles, where his work was more focused on the interaction of his architectural, graphic and typographic experiments, transforming sounds to architecture, words to costumes, or drawings to characters. This made me realize that he is not only a painter, but a graphic artist and an architectural designer, and a designer of furniture’s, books and posters.

This is the proof that architecture and design are not just about constructing buildings or visuals, but also about how to create a coherent whole with a story, connecting different elements like the space, decors, visuals or texts.

Then maybe design is an activity one can apply to any kind of system. Architecture is a principle for making relational systems that can improve the totality of an artwork.

Suprematistisch verhaal over twee vierkanten in zes constructies.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

[cover] "Two Squares" / Dedication page / [page.4], from Lissitzky's "Two Squares"

Dit verhaal (1920) behoort tot de proun-serie van lissitzky.
Ik vind het een van zijn beste werken. Simpel en toch heel sterk.
In eerste instantie wist ik helemaal niet dat dit een kaft van een boek was. Een kinderboek nog wel. Over een rood en een zwart vierkant die de wereld gaan redden met behulp van een cirkel. Ze bundelen hun krachten samen om zo de chaos te vernietigen en een nieuwe orde te vestigen.

[page.4] Don’t read, get paper, rods, blocks, set them out, paint them, build.

De tekst op pagina 4 maakt duidelijk dat Lissitzky met zijn verhaal kinderen en volwassenen lezers aanspoorde tot activiteit. Zijn intentie was het verhaal tot leven te laten komen in een schouwspel. Je zou het dan ook niet alleen op een (typo)grafisch twee dimensionele kunnen zien, maar ook op een architecturale drie dimensionele manier kunnen bekijken.

[page.5] Here are the two squares / [page.6] They fly on to the Earth from far away and / [page.7] And see a black storm.

[page.8] Crash – and everything flies apart / [page.9] And on the black was established Red Clearly / [page.10] This is the end – let’s go on.

The words move within the fields of force of the figures as they act: these are squares’, zoals hij zelf zegt. De plaatsing van de woorden en het gebruik van de letters vertegenwoordigde een totaal nieuwe benadering. Het verhaal wordt dan ook over het algemeen aanvaard als een van de eerste voorbeelden van de Nieuwe Typografie.

Het werk werd voor het eerst gepubliceerd in 1922 en bestaat uit 10 pagina’s. Lissitzky maakte zelfs een speciale editie voor ons beroemde vaderlandse tijdschrift De Stijl ( in “De Stijl” 5e Jaargang 10/11). Enkele uitgaven hiervan zijn nog op te vragen bij het magazijn van de openbare bibliotheek (De Stijl : [maandblad voor de beeldende vakken], maar de editie waar ik het over heb is daar helaas niet meer in de collectie. Wel de volledige facsimile herdruk met het gehele in het Nederlands vertaalde “van tWee kWAdrAten in 6 konstrukties” in deel II. Ook kun je de volledige originele versie nog vinden in het boek “El Lissitzky”, wat door zijn vrouw Sophie Lissitzky-Küppers is geschreven.

De Stijl facsimile (red. Theo van Doesburg ; ed. by Ad Petersen1968) [page 5,6,7,8,9, 10+page 4]
El Lissitzky by Sophie Lissitzky-Küppers [top 3 pages, original print 22 x 28 cm]

Proun. Street Celebration Design, 1921, Lissitzky


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

In this work you see influences of Design, Fine arts, Architecture and Graphic design.
A nice thing of this work is that the upper drawing can stand on his own, and therefore can be divided in Fine arts. What Lissitzky is doing in the painted photo below, can be compared with design. Almost all his work contains influences of Design, Fine arts, Architecture and Graphic design. For myself I see it back the most in this one.
I really like the composition and colour distribution and how Lissitzky combines the 2D/3D perspective, which makes the drawing much more architectural.
I think the later work of Kandinsky is in some way comparable. I’m talking about elements of composition, colour distribution wise and form contrasts.
What’s fascinating actually is that for example in these paintings ( K1, L1, K2, L2 ) the triangles, (half) circles, stripes and composition have so much in common. While the ideas of their work are so different. Kandinsky combines painting with music, which Lissitzky does with architecture.

What I appreciate is the modern way of exposing his work. I like the way he puts his drawing and his street-exhibition in one frame on the cardboard. And the fact that he paints on the photo. The street celebration design reminds me a bit of graffiti in legal manners. In Graffiti you have multiple meanings of doing it. Some do it for the adrenaline-kick, some for the group or competition feeling, some to show their design skills and others for  political statements or propaganda. This last example is what I see in a part of Lissitzky’s work.

I think it’s interesting to see how he uses his propaganda work in other work but then he integrates his in his autonomous work (proun. street celebration design).

All in all I think it’s a great work and a unique style. I really admire that Lissitzky makes so many different things, and still keeps it in one theme

Made me look


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Designing a book is not something that requires a lot more than just putting together some pieces of paper and binding them in a book cover. But in order to design a book that immediately attracts ones attention, a book that makes you look, it is necessary to re-think it to make people wonder and speculate. Something that surprises them, make them think, or reminds them of something else that they are familiar with.
Stefan Sagmeisters book “Made you look” from 2001 is a great example of a book that has been re-thought. Already by removing the plastic cover of the book you get surprised and fascinated by the simple transformation that takes place in front of your eyes. What seemed to be a sweet family dog appears to be a ferocious wolf, just by using red foil on top of a separated red and green color print. The technology is simple, the result overwhelming.

Already in 1923 El Lissitzky was thinking further than just a bunch of papers in a hard cover, when he published an interesting little book with poems of Vladimir Mayakovsky accompanied by graphics by him self, under the title “For the voice”.

To make it easy to locate a specific poem Lissitzky made the kind of index we find in phonebooks at the edge of the pages. But where in the phonebooks you look up a name by the first letter, Lissitzky made small abstract symbols or thumbnails of the graphic that accompanied the specific poem in the book.
This way Lissitzky moves the form of the book away from the formal form and at the same time he plays with an already known design, that doesn’t make people confused but rather triggers a desire to explore. I really think that this is a great way to stimulate peoples curiosity to look in the book, which is the whole point of making one. It’s very inspiring.

El Lissitzky


Thursday, January 28, 2010

From Van Abbemuseums power point presentation I got attracted to a painting by El Lissitzky called “Proun P23, no 6″, in this presentation it has number 51. I have never really been into constructivism, suprematism or any of these kind of movements but I will try to focus on the things I actually like in El Lissitzkys painting. In general, I like the way he is able to leave empty spaces without making it comfortable. I always have to be alert so I don’t fall into the harsh abstractions of his work. The patina or aging paper makes it easier.

In this specific painting, “Proun P23 no 6″, I get the false illusion that he has done the same thing and left an empty space. But in fact the painting is packed. Trying to describe the painting, one can say that it has a fleshy colour in bottom, there are two deep red triangular forms almost meeting in the middle. Preventing them from coming together is a rectangle, a cube and two things that appear more flat, a stick and a square. The cube has a deep green coulor, the other objects are more neutral to the paintings colours. I like the colour composition and that it feels light even though it’s made in oil and on canvas. It’s a nice mix of painting and drawing. I also like the spacial aspect and the loose objects. It’s interesting the way he here presents the abstraction, I mean the space and volume is meeting some very basic shapes that seems easy to recognize and comprehend but makes an intriguing whole.

It’s hard to say anything about the texture of the painting from this point of view, but with the zoom site I attached it’s easier to get a feeling of it. From looking at other modernistic paintings, I really don’t like that dry texture from when the paint is not enough in one stroke or when the canvas is shown too much. These things create a very uncomfortable and also very physical feeling, just like some people don’t like and get chills when scratching your nails against a blackboard. This don’t seem to be a problem here with Proun 23, and I can understand that Van Abbemuseum must be very proud to have this painted Proun in it’s collection.

Applicable to all aspects of daily life


Thursday, January 28, 2010

If I would come across El Lissitzky’s street decorations today, without knowing what they were, or who they were made by, I’d be wary of calling them decorations.

They just look too much like big paintings.

And calling somebody’s painting “decorative” is usually not good for your relationship with the person.

But that’s what interests me so much about his design for street decorations from 1921: It doesn’t look like any type I have seen before.

I’m actually not sure if the decorations would be terribly effective, the street in the photo does not look particularly festive. Lissitzky’s position seems to be not so much about creating objects that fulfill a purpose in the best possible way, but more about having them embody certain (suprematist) ideals.

It seems to me, that in his street decorations, Lissitzky is not looking for the ideal street decoration, but instead applying his ideals to them.

The Suprematists of whom Lissitzky was part, strived for suprematism as “embracing all aspects of the human spirit”  and thought suprematist forms to be applicable to all aspects of daily life. And you can see this when you look at a sample of Lissitzky’s work put together. It seems he really believed that this style, this way of working, could work for anything.

But there is more to these forms than meets the eye, they follow set standards and, if you know how to “read” them, communicate a clear story. A real form-language if you will. Unfortunately I do not speak this language, or know what the paintings mean, but in Lissitsky’s vision it would be omnipresent, and understood by all.

This really interests me,

is the reason the decorations do not work for me that I do not speak Lissitzky’s language?

Or would they, even if communism had worked out and everyone would understand, still miss something of the festiveness that we associate with street decorations?

I am inclined to think the latter


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