Lazar El Lissitzky (1890-1941)

Lazar El Lissitzky was born November 23, 1890 and died December 30, 1941.

Lissitzky was Russian Painter, typographer, and designer. His innovations in typography, advertising and exhibition design were particularly influential.

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-Lissitzky said that his designs or “stages” as he called them, should be a kind of “…showcase or stage on which the pictures make their appearance as actors in a drama or comedy, it should not imitate a living space.”

-Lissitzky was from Pochinok, a small Jewish community 31 miles southeast of Smolensk, former Russian Empire.

-Lissitzky received his initial art training in Vitebsk(now Vitsyebsk, Belarus), a city that would play a major role in the development of the Russian avant-garde.  In 1903 he studied in the art school of Yehuda (Yury) Pen, however he soon left for Germany, being dissatisfied with the provincial atmosphere of Vitebsk.  Once in Germany, he studied architecture from 1909 to 1914. During this period he also traveled to France, Italy, and Belgium.  From 1915 to 1916, when WWI broke out, Lissitzky made his way back to Russia and settled in Moscow where he studied at the Riga (Latvia) Polytechnical Institute (now Riga Technical University).  At this school Lissitzky took a degree in engineering and architecture and started to work as a draftsman in an architect’s office. These elements are very dominant in El Lissitzky’s work.

-Lissitzky used a palette of simplistic primary colors, mainly black and white, incorporated text and contained geometric constructions.  It was a new phenomenon that Lissitzky could tell stories including traditional Jewish tales and make powerful political statements just using a 2-D stage.  Constructivist artists used a lot of white, black and red.  Red is energetic and associated with movement and excitement.  White is the color of cleanness and safety.  Black entails power and authority.  These traits were to be a niche for Lissitzky.

-Lissitzky used sans-serif fonts, which are cleaner for use on the web and easier for children to read.