Victory Over the Sun – El Lissitzky’s Drawings for Suprematist Automatons

Victory Over The Sun [Poster] - El LissitzkyVictory Over The Sun [Poster] – El Lissitzky

‘Every form is the frozen instantaneous picture of a process. Thus a work is a stopping-place on the road of becoming and not the fixed goal’ – El Lissitzky, Texts 1920-1923

El Lissitzky created his series of architectonic figures after seeing a production of Victory Over the Sun, the futuristic Russian opera with music by Mikhail Matyushin and costumes/stage designed by Kasimir Malevich. Premièred in St. Petersberg in 1913, the opera’s libretto was written by radical sound poet Aleksei Kruchenykh in the linguistically experimental and symbolic Zaum language. Paired up with Malevich’s set design and costumes, this pro-technological phonosemantic opera inspired Lissitzky to recreate figures of the opera’s main protagonists as suprematist automatons. A portfolio of ten large colour lithographs showing the main characters was published in Hanover in 1923. Lissitzky’s ultimate vision was to recast the opera as an electromechanical show with mechanical puppets. Much like his Proun (Project for the Affirmation of the New) series affirm the possibility of new utopian architectural forms, without explicit plans for their construction, his ‘Victory’ drawings imply the geometrical choreographies of constructivist automatons for the coming utopian machine age. The movements of figures are suggested by using shifting axes, multiple perspectives and directional signifiers. Lissitzky’s lyrical sense of humour is not withstanding whilst dealing with the tensions between pure abstraction, narration and representation.

New Man - El LissitzkyNew Man – El Lissitzky

The Announcer - El LissitzkyThe Announcer – El Lissitzky

Postman - El LissitzkyPostman – El Lissitzky

Anxious People - El LissitzkyAnxious People – El Lissitzky

Globetrotter (In-Time) - El LissitzkyGlobetrotter (In-Time) – El Lissitzky

Troublemaker - El LissitzkyTroublemaker – El Lissitzky

Old Man - El LissitzkyOld Man – El Lissitzky

Gravediggers - El LissitzkyGravediggers – El Lissitzky


The Architectural Fantasies of Iakov Chernikhov
Yuri Avvakumov – Agitarch Structures: Reconfiguring Utopia

Further Links:

Zaum and Sun: The ‘first Futurist opera’ revisited
The Historical Context of El Lissitzky – Dr. John Milner
El Lissitzky on Pinterest

One Response to “Victory Over the Sun – El Lissitzky’s Drawings for Suprematist Automatons”

  1. Dataisnature writes:


    Utopia LTD at GRAD in London presents an exhibition of Soviet avant-garde artwork reconstructed by Henry Milner. It includes works by El Lissitzky, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Vladimir Tatlin and Gustavs Klucis.

    There are 4 models of El Lissitzky’s ‘Victory’ figures:

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