The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
'Prounenraum' by El Lissitzky is a small square space which can be entered through a doorway. Rectangular black and grey fields have been painted on the white walls and reliefs have been attached to these which partly continue from one wall to the next. There is a large square opening in the ceiling and cheesecloth is stretched over the top. In this opening, two bars painted black form an asymmetrical cross. The reliefs are mainly made of wood and are composed of thin sheets, slats and bars, largely coated with transparent varnish. In addition they contain elements which have been painted an even black, white or grey. Here and there, there are narrow edges of red. One exception to the otherwise rectangular shapes is a small sphere which forms part of a relief on the back wall.
Lissitzky made two-dimensional “Prouns” from 1919, which are compositions with geometrical shapes in which he suggests a complex spatial dimension. Some of the shapes appear to be flat, while others look three dimensional, and seem to advance or retreat. Their spatial relationship is not always clear. Lissitzky created a truly spatial composition with the 'Prounenraum'. This example is a reconstruction of the space which he created at the Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung in 1923. He was concerned with creating a dynamic image, just as he did in the “flat” Prouns. The elongated fields and slats attached in horizontal, vertical or diagonal directions mean that the viewer’s gaze constantly moves from one place to another, from wall to wall, and via the reliefs also from the wall into the space.
Lissitzky was influenced by the work of Malevich, a Russian painter who developed Suprematism in 1915. According to Malevich, true reality does not consist of matter, but energy. He expressed his ideas about reality as a force field in which the forces interact in dynamic abstract compositions of geometrical shapes against a white background. Lissitzky considered this art to be perfectly suited to express the new society created after the Russian Revolution in 1917. Lissitzky also identified with the starting points of Constructivism. The Constructivists were literally building a new society by making three-dimensional objects in which the tangible elements and the space between them were equally important. Lissitzky was a multidimensional artist. In addition to being a painter, he was also an architect, typographer, photographer and exhibition maker.