Situating El Lissitzky reassesses the complex career of one of the most influential yet controversial experimental artists of the early twentieth century. A prolific painter, designer, architect, and photographer, El Lissitzky (1890–1941) worked with the Soviet and the European artistic avant-gardes in the 1920s and as a propagandist for the Stalinist regime in the following decade.
Taking readers into the thick of current debates about Lissitzky's artistic personae, the book reconstructs aspects of his elusive identity across different periods, places, and media. Following an introduction in which Nancy Perloff distills and draws together the volume's eight essays, Christina Lodder, Éva Forgács, and Maria Gough offer revisionist accounts of Lissitzky's years as an international constructivist and exhibition designer in Europe. John E. Bowlt then investigates the role of handicraft and the symbol of the hand in Lissitzky's artistic production, and Leah Dickerman and Margarita Tupitsyn elucidate the interplay between physicality and opticality at different stages in Lissitzky's development as a photographer. Finally, T. J. Clark and Peter Nisbet address the disconcerting balance of aesthetic value and political expediency in Lissitzky's overtly Communist art. The result is a kaleidoscopic portrait of Lissitzky as Bolshevik visionary, craftsman, modernist, internationalist, and Soviet propagandist.
Nancy Perloff is collections curator of modern and new media collections at the Getty Research Institute. Brian Reed is assistant professor of English at the University of Washington, Seattle.
288 pages 7 x 10 inches 15 color and 69 b/w illustrations ISBN 978-0-89236-677-4 paperback
Getty Publications Imprint: Getty Research Institute Series: Issues & Debates
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