MoMA
El Lissitzky. Proun 19D. 1920 or 1921
El Lissitzky

Proun 19D

1920 or 1921
On view
Medium
Gesso, oil, varnish, crayon, colored papers, sandpaper, graph paper, cardboard, metallic paint, and metal foil on plywood
Dimensions
38 3/8 x 38 1/4" (97.5 x 97.2 cm)
Credit
Katherine S. Dreier Bequest
Object number
172.1953
Copyright
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Between 1919 and 1927 El Lissitzky produced a large body of paintings, prints, and drawings that he referred to by the word Proun (pronounced pro-oon), an acronym for "project for the affirmation of the new" in Russian. Lissitzky's style reflects his training as an architect in Germany before World War I as well as the inspiration of Kazimir Malevich, a fellow teacher at the Vitebsk art school. Lissitzky's radical reconception of space and material is a metaphor for and visualization of the fundamental transformations in society that he thought would result from the Russian Revolution.

Gallery label from 2010
Additional text

In 1920, Lissitzky announced a new type of artwork that he called a "Proun"—an acronym of the Russian phrase meaning "project for the affirmation of the new." Lissitzky and his contemporaries were working in Russia just three years after its revolution, when a civil war still raged for control of the country. For them, the new was a pressing concern. Lissitzky’s term "project" came from the language not of fine art but of architecture, and betrays his training in that profession in Germany in the years before the revolution. Returning to Russia, he joined the faculty of the art school in Vitebsk, a provincial town, on the fringes of the war, where the Suprematist Kazimir Malevich was already teaching. Together they pursued a new art for a new, post-revolutionary world.

Gallery label from Inventing Abstraction, 1910–1925, December 23, 2012–April 15, 2013

In 1920, Lissitzky announced a new type of artwork that he called a "Proun"—an acronym of the Russian phrase meaning "project for the affirmation of the new." Lissitzky and his contemporaries were

working in Russia just three years after its revolution,when a civil war still raged for control of the country. For them, the new was a pressing concern. Lissitzky's term "project" came from the language not of fine

art but of architecture, and betrays his training in that profession in Germany in the years before the revolution. Returning to Russia, he joined the faculty of the art school in Vitebsk, a provincial town, on the fringes of the war, where the Suprematist Kazimir Malevich was already teaching. Together they pursued a new art for a new, post-revolutionary world.

Gallery label from 2015
Provenance information
Acquired by Katherine S. Dreier (1877-1952), New York and West Redding, CT, 1922 [1]; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1953 (Katherine S. Dreier Bequest).
[1] Dreier purchased the work from the Erste Russische Kunstausstellung, Galerie van Diemen, Berlin, October 15-end of December, 1922 (no. 122: Proun 19D).

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Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource