Summer Project

Over the summer we were asked to look at the history of Graphic Design and pick one individual who we thought had made a significant impact in the field.  As I am quite interested in war and how propaganda is used, I concentrated my research in this area and chose the Russian Constructivist, El Lissitzky.  Lissitzky was an artist, designer, architect and photographer who lived between 1890 and 1941, and whose most important and influential works occurred during and directly after the Russian Civil War.  Lissitzky and his mentor Malevich developed the movement known as Suprematism, which focused on the rejection of natural shapes and the creation of more distinct geometric forms.  His most famous work is ‘Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge’ which is full of political symbolism and shows Lissitzky’s first steps into a style of his own.  The work was created at the time of the collapse of the government to the Soviet’s under the domination of Lenin’s Bolshevik party.  The red wedge represents the revolutionaries/communists penetrating and defeating their opponents, the White Army, who represent the socialists who opposed the Bolshevik revolution.  During this time, Lissitzky was also working on a series of abstract paintings known as Proun – these used the visual language of suprematism with space, multiple perspectives and the ideas of volume and mass.  Later whilst he was working in Germany, he met with Theo van Doesburg and Kurt Schwitters and presented to them the idea of an international artistic movement under the guidelines of constructivism, directly influencing the Bauhaus movement.  Throughout his life, Lissitzky used his work to show his commitment to the soviet cause and to influence life in art and in politics.  Although I was aware of him before this project, I enjoyed going into it in more detail and learning more history of the Russian Civil War, as I was not familiar with it at all!  I really like his use of geometric shapes and unusual layouts in his later work as a graphic designer.  Although you can see he takes some inspiration from the Dada movement, Lissitzky’s layouts are clearly more organised and thought out.


“The sun as the expression of old world energy is torn down from the heavens by modern man, who by virtue of his technological superiority creates his own energy source.” (

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