Moscow: Obschestvo evreiskoy muziki, 1919. 5 pp. 35x26 cm. Original illustrated wrappers. Minor tears, otherwise in good condition.
Jewish sheet music piece, the wrapper is designed by Lazar (EL) Lissitzky. Text in Yiddish and Russian.
The design by Lissitzky has been done in his Moscow period, which lasted from 1915 until 1918. At the time Lazar was studying in Riga Polytechnic (evacuated to Moscow) which allowed him to lawfully stay in Moscow. After the fall of Pale of Settlement in 1917 he received his papers to legally stay in Moscow, but left for Kiev in 1919.
This early period of Lissitzky’s life is less documented than the others, but is equally interesting. After studying in Germany he took the keen interest in Jewish national motifs and has started to implement them in his own art. The best-known examples of Lissitzky’s book design at the time are legendary ‘Khad Gadia’ (1917) and the jewish poetic compilation ‘U rek vavilonskikh’ (1917).
In the summer of 1916 Lissitzky together with Isaak-Ber Rybak took a trip to the Western parts of Russian Empire documenting the wall paintings in synagogues in Mogilev, Kopys, Dubrovna and Druja. The ornaments were clearly used by Lissitzky in this and other similar designs.
Around 30 books, posters and illustrations are known, designed by Lissitzky for different printed matter in Yiddish. A lot of the art from the period hasn’t survived, like the giant 2-meter ‘Prishestvie messii’ that was exhibited in 1917 in Saint-Petersburg at Mir Iskusstva exhibition.
It is argued that in 1919 upon his time in Vitebsk, inspired by Kazimir Malevich Lissitzky had adapted his signature style, defying the principles of new art, that allowed him to influence so heavily the international art and design of the 20th century.
Because of that it’s vital and important to see what formed Lissitzky as an artist before he went abstract and became a phenomenon as much as the artist.
After all, in 1916, after copying the XVIIIth century wall paintings from the synagogue in Mogilev (the images survived only because of Lazar’s work), he has praised it in periodical ‘Milgroym-Rimon’ as rapturously as he hasn’t praised anyone’s art before or after, comparing the paintings to the Roman basilicas, French baroque or the joy of seeing the newborn in the rays of the morning sunshine.