Lazar Markovich Lissitzky was a Russian artist of Lithuanian-Jewish origin. Skilled in a variety of fields, including photography, graphic design, and typography, Lissitzky was a groundbreaking figure in the Russian avant-garde movement in the early 20th century, which was also the period of his artistic heyday. He started his career illustrating Yiddish children’s books in an avid attempt to put Jewish themes at the forefront of Russian mainstream culture.
His artistic endeavors included developing the suprematism movement alongside Russian avant-garde painter Kazimir Malevich. Suprematism is an art form whose fulcrum is geometric shapes (such as rectangles, circles, squares, etc.); it advocates for the supremacy of those pure geometric bodies over other non- abstract representations. All these shapes were painted in an exclusive color palette. He referred to these figures as “prouns” in order to define the spatial relationships of his compositions. In addition, his work greatly influenced the Bauhaus movement. His idiosyncratic techniques, which were particular to his artistic style, ended up dominating the entire gamut of graphic design in the 20th century.
Lissitzky also designed various propaganda posters for the Soviet Union, the most famous being his Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge lithographic poster made in 1919. It is considered an important symbol of the Russial Civil War. This lithograph shows a big red triangle piercing a white circle, which creates the central vantage point of the work. The red wedge symbolizes the revolutionaries, who were forcefully penetrating and destroying the anti-Communist white army. The white background depicts the bright, expected future. This poster serves as a fine example of how Lissitzky used geometric shapes as distinctive symbols to represent his artistic and ideological aesthetics.