The “way station” between
painting and architecture

Image: El Lissitzky,
PROUN 1-C (1919)


From “Theses on the PROUN: From painting to architecture” (1920)

Not world-illusion
but world-reality

We have named PROUN a station on the path to the construction of the new form. […] From being a simple depicter the artist becomes a creator (builder) of forms for a new world — the world of objectivity. This does not mean the creation of a rivalry with the engineer. Art has not yet crossed paths with science.

2. PROUN is understood as the creative construction of form (based on the mastery of space) assisted by economic construction of the applied material. The goal of PROUN is progressive movement on the way to concrete creation, and not the substantiation, explanation, or promotion of life.

The path of the PROUN does not lie within the narrowly limited, fragmented, and isolated scientific disciplines — the builder consolidates them all together in his own experimental investigation.

The path of the PROUN is not the incoherent approach of separate scientific disciplines, theories, and systems, but is rather the straightforward path of learned influence over reality. […]

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El Lissitzky, design for a yacht club on Lenin Hills (August 1925)

From a letter to his wife Sophie (1925)

I’m working on a project for the yacht club [iakhtkluba] on Lenin Hills, and have nearly finished with the basic layout. All of this has been resolved spatially, and I think from this something will result. […]


[…] I’m not racking my brain over the technical aspects or the general problem, but over the art! […] When you look at the sketches now, you see that the most complicated thing is to make them simpler […]. I don’t think could explain it any more basically. The whole complex is located on a steep bank. Three large red horizontals — these are the terraces, corresponding to a lightning zigzag on the diagonal — with a serpentine passage connecting the upper and lower terraces. On the right at the bottom is a large hall. The roof doubles as a platform [tribuna] for viewers during the water regattas.

The basis for this work is the “PROUN” sketch, which I’ll draw for you later.

(8.13.1925) Continue reading