October 7, 2008 — In conjunction with "El Lissitzky: Futurist Portfolios," on view at the University of Virginia Art Museum until Dec. 28, exhibit curator Elizabeth Hutton Turner will give a lunchtime talk Oct. 14 at noon.
"El Lissitzky: Futurist Portfolios" features two complete sets of the influential Russian abstract artist Lazar Markovich (El) Lissitzky's futuristic portfolios, commissioned by the Kestner Society in 1923. Twenty prints are highlighted, including eight from his "Proun" portfolio, which he intended as a prototype for future mechanical and architectural designs, and 12 from his "Victory Over the Sun" portfolio, created to commemorate Kasimir Malevich's 1913 futurist opera of the same name. Between 1923 and 1928, Lissitzky took his "Proun" prints into a three-dimensional space, building abstract rooms.
Contemporary artist Hideyo Okamura recreated Lissitzky's 1923 Berlin "Proun" room in the U.Va. Art Museum, taking into account the architectural elements of the museum's Pine Gallery, where the prints are displayed. Okamura painted the room with Lissitzky's preferred architectural tones and shapes, which wrap around corners and ascend to the ceiling of the gallery, creating wall-size abstractions that give viewers a three-dimensional experience of the artists' work.
In her talk, Turner will answer the question, "What is a 'Proun'?," and discuss how Okamura's employment of El Lissitzky's geometric designs defies visual gravity.
The exhibition installation was curated by Turner, vice provost for the arts and interim director of the U.Va. Art Museum, and Elsa Smithgall, associate curator of The Phillips Collection in Washington.
"El Lissitzky: Futurist Portfolios" is made possible with the generous support of the U.Va. Art Museum Volunteer Board, Arts Enhancement Fund and Arts$.