By descent to Jen Lissitzky, the photographer's son
Collection of Barry Friedman, New York
Christie's New York, The Image as Object: Photographs from the Collection of Barry Friedman, 5 October 1998, Sale 9026, Lot 69
El Lissitzky: Experiments in Photography (Houk Friedman, 1991), pl. 22
Margarita Tupitsyn, El Lissitzky: Beyond the Abstract Cabinet (Yale University Press, 1999), p. 215, fig. 10, cat. 95
The present photomontage combines in the foreground an image of the photographer’s infant son, Jen (‘Boris’) Lissitzky and the Russian Communist newspaper, Pravda; in the background is an image of Lissitzky at work on his model set for the play. On the reverse of the print, Lissitzky’s wife, Sophie, has captioned the photograph in Cyrillic script, which loosely translated, reads: ‘Project for the play by Tretyakov ‘I Want a Baby.’ El Lissitzky and his son Boris. Photograph.’
Lissitzky was one of the great triumvirate of artist/designer/photographers, along with Moholy-Nagy and Alexander Rodchenko, who championed photography’s primacy in the making of the art of their time. The three were alert to photography’s ‘plastic’ nature—its ability to achieve a vast array of artistic effects, through montage, collage, and the photogram technique, often in combination with text. They understood its ability to function simultaneously as a tool for communication and for personal expression, as illustrated by the image offered here.
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