chapter  4
13 Pages

Horizontal Skyscraper: series within a series

As previously discussed, particularly in relation to Tatlin’s monument, the currency of ‘new’ during this period was very high. Inextricably bound to old, unique, and original, ‘new’ is related to copying and repetition. Prolifically present in Lissitzky’s work, it was evident in many of the titles1 of the projects he engaged in. For example, in 1919, together with his teacher, Kazimir Malevich, he was involved with the UNOVIS group, which is an abbreviation for Affirmers (Champions) of the New Art. UNOVIS was also known as MOLPOSNOVIS and POSNOVIS, Young Followers of the New Art, or Followers of the New Art. The facts about this short but influential group, like most associations during this period, are still disputed. For example, in books on Lissitzky, you tend to find that UNOVIS was formed by him, yet publications on Malevich state that he founded it, with Lissitzky and others joining later. Lissitzky’s essay written in 1920 clearly illustrates his commitment to the idea of the ‘new’:

The artist constructs a new symbol with this brush. This symbol is not a recognisable form of anything in the world – it is a symbol of the new world, which is being built upon and which exists by way of the people.2