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John Milner

[Lisitsky, El’ ; Lisitsky, Lazar’ (Markovich )]

(b Pochinok, Smolensk province, Nov 23, 1890; d Moscow, Dec 30, 1941).

Russian draughtsman, architect, printmaker, painter, illustrator, designer, photographer, teacher, and theorist.

After attending school in Smolensk, he enrolled in 1909 at the Technische Hochschule, Darmstadt, to study architecture and engineering. He also travelled extensively in Europe, however, and he made a tour of Italy to study art and architecture. He frequently made drawings of the architectural monuments he encountered on his travels. These early graphic works were executed in a restrained, decorative style reminiscent of Russian Art Nouveau book illustration. His drawings of Vitebsk and Smolensk (1910; Eindhoven, Stedel. Van Abbemus.), for example, show a professional interest in recording specific architectural structures and motifs, but they are simultaneously decorative graphic works in their own right and highly suitable for publication. This innate awareness of the importance of controlling the design of the page was to remain a feature of Lissitzky’s work throughout radical stylistic transformations. He also recorded buildings in Ravenna, Venice, and elsewhere in Italy in ...

Article

Troels Andersen

(Severinovich)

(b Kiev, Feb 26, 1878; d Leningrad [now St Petersburg], May 15, 1935).

Russian painter, printmaker, decorative artist and writer of Ukranian birth. One of the pioneers of abstract art, Malevich was a central figure in a succession of avant-garde movements during the period of the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917 and immediately after. The style of severe geometric abstraction with which he is most closely associated, Suprematism (see fig.), was a leading force in the development of Constructivism, the repercussions of which continued to be felt throughout the 20th century. His work was suppressed in Soviet Russia in the 1930s and remained little known during the following two decades. The reassessment of his reputation in the West from the mid-1950s was matched by the renewed influence of his work on the paintings of Ad Reinhardt and on developments such as Zero, Hard-edge painting and Minimalism.

Article

Catherine Cooke

(Sergeyevich)

(b Saratov, April 1, 1884; d Leningrad (now St Petersburg), July 16, 1953).

Russian architect, teacher, draughtsman and printmaker. He entered the architecture faculty of the Institute of Civil Engineers, St Petersburg, in 1902, graduating in 1912, after student radicalism closed the Institute in 1905–7. His gold medal prize was a year’s travel in Italy, studying Byzantine architecture and mosaics under the guidance of his teacher Vasily Kosyakov (1862–1921), with whom he later collaborated on a number of churches. After the 1917 Revolution he was mainly employed in railway reconstruction, then urban planning and workers’ housing improvement. He also taught at the Institute of Civil Engineers, where he pioneered a freer, more exploratory architectural curriculum. While attending Ginkhuk (Rus.: State Institute of Artistic Culture), an affiliate of Inkhuk in Moscow, he met Malevich’s pupil, Lazar’ Khidekel (1904–86). The influence of Suprematism, particularly in his collaborations with Khidekel, is visible in many compositions of the 1920s.

During the 1920s and early 1930s, Nikolsky was the leading Modernist working in comparatively traditionalist Leningrad. His adherence to the ‘working method’ of the Constructivists was modified by a greater insistence on form as a legitimate generator of a building design in its own right. Where the Moscow Modernists were sharply split between Constructivist and Nikolay Ladovsky’s Rationalist approaches, Nikolsky’s approach, and the characteristic Leningrad attitude that owed much to him, were essentially a synthesis of these two....