El Lissitzky Sportsmen (Sportsmänner) from Figurines: The Three-Dimensional Design of the Electro-Mechanical Show Victory over the Sun (Figurinen, die plastische Gestaltung der elektro-mechanischen Schau Sieg über die Sonne) 1920–21, published 1923

  • Not on view

For the 1920 UNOVIS production, Vitebsk, USSR. Libretto by Aleksei Kruchenykh. Music by Mikhail Matyushin

Performed for the first time in St. Petersburg in 1913, Victory Over the Sun imagined a utopian, mechanized future exemplified by humanity's imprisonment of the sun and its replacement with a new, technological source of light and energy. Written in zaum, an experimental poetic language invented by Russian Futurists and meant to emphasize the inherent meaning of sounds, the opera has been called the first example of Futurist theater. In their reduced geometry, the original sets and costumes by Russian artist Kazimir Malevich heralded an abstraction that became known as Suprematism.

In 1920 Lissitsky executed his own designs for Victory Over the Sun, but they were never realized theatrically. In them he represents characters such as the Sportsmen and the Announcer as abstract, electromechanical dolls. Following the opera's own themes, Lissitsky imagined a new kind of theater performed by machines.

Gallery label from Stage Pictures: Drawing for Performance, March 11–August 24, 2009.
One from a portfolio of ten lithographs
Sheet: 21 x 17 7/8" (53.3 x 45.4 cm)
Robert Leunis & Chapman, Hannover
Robert Leunis & Chapman, Hannover
Object number
© 2024 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
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