The Passover Haggadah
  Modern Art in Dialogue with an Ancient Text
      El Lissitzky

El Lissitzky was born Lazar Markovich Lisitskii on November 23, 1890, in Pochinok, in the Russian province of Smolensk. He was a Russian artist, designer, photographer, teacher, typographer, and architect and was one of the most important figures of the Russian avant garde, helping develop suprematism with his friend and mentor, Kazimir Malevich, and designed numerous exhibition displays and propaganda works for the former Soviet Union. His work greatly influenced the Bauhaus, Constructivist, and De Stijl movements and he experimented with production techniques and stylistic devices that would later dominate 20th century graphic design. A Jew, he began his career illustrating Yiddish children's books in an effort to promote Jewish culture in Russia, a country that was undergoing massive change at the time and had just repealed its anti-Semitic laws. Lissitzky started teaching at the age of 15; a duty he would continue for the vast majority of his life. Over the years, he taught in a variety of positions, schools, and artistic mediums, spreading and exchanging ideas at a rapid pace. Lissitzky took this teaching ethic with him when headed the suprematist art group UNOVIS with Malevich, and further still in 1921, when he took up a job as the Russian cultural ambassador in Weimar Germany. In his remaining years he brought significant innovation and change to the fields of typography, exhibition design, photomontage, and book design, producing critically respected works and winning international acclaim for his exhibition design. In 1941, Lissitzky produced one of his final works - a Soviet propaganda poster rallying the people to construct more tanks for the fight against Nazi Germany.


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