Victory over the Sun, the futurist opera that received its premiere in St. Petersburg in 1913, is the focal point of this exhibition. The Russian artist Kazimir Malevich designed the fantastic costumes and sets for this opera’s premiere in 1913. The opera was staged for a second time after the Russian Revolution. This 1920 production was mounted in Vitebsk.
Inspired by this performance, Lissitzky thought that it would also be possible to recast the work as an electromechanical show. He designed a number of figurines and a dynamic stage set for these doll-like figures. Besides an edition of the final result, the Figurinnenmappe, a portfolio of lithographs depicting several of the opera’s characters, the Van Abbemuseum’s collection includes unique sketches for these figurines and a number of printer’s proofs.
Designs by Lissitzky are presented in a threedimensional form throughout the exhibition. For example, in the first room the red and black square from his book The Story of Two Squares will be realised as cubes, with the three-dimensional models based on the Figurinnenmappe displayed inside the red cube. In the introduction to this portfolio, Lissitzky actually provides instructions for anyone who would like to create threedimensional models based on these illustrations. However, nobody has ever done this, and the Van Abbemuseum is seizing the initiative to have several of these models designed and realised. These will be installed in the spatial machinery that Lissitzky conceived, so that visitors can walk around them. The reconstruction of the renowned Proun space from the museum’s collection will be presented in the black cube. The designs associated with the work inside the cubes will be displayed in the immediate vicinity of the red and black cubes.
In the second room the focus shifts to Lissitzky as a graphic designer, while the third room sheds light on his international activities. Lissitzky’s architectural designs are presented in the fourth room, together with models of several designs by other artists and architects. The presentation in this space includes a towering maquette of his Wolkenbügel (Cloudprop) skyscraper. A blown-up version of the design for the New Man figurine is to be mounted on the window in the stairwell, while two enlargements of designs for propaganda posters on trams in Vitebsk will be presented on the walls each year.
Room five is devoted to the story of how the Van Abbemuseum acquired its Lissitzky collection, and in the sixth room the public can find complementary information.
Outside, a six-metre high rendering of one of the figurines, the Gravediggers, specially constructed for this exhibition, is installed in the museum lake.
You can play 'Proun - the game' by Joost van Dongen in the basement of the new building.