June 5, 2011
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El Lissitzky

In Eindhoven for Hypertext 2011. Whenever I can, I leave a day at one end of a conference or another to see a little of the place. So should you. Eat the food, see the sights. There’s a lot you won’t see or learn from a day, but it’s a start.

The highlight of the Van Abbe Museum was its magnificent collection of El Lissitzky. I’ve always liked his posters and drawings, but this was far more Lissitzky than I’d ever seen and it really benefits from the mass, much as the Bauhaus shows Gropius, Albers, and Mies in their best light.

I didn’t realize that young Lissitzky romped with Chagall.

What comes through most strongly here is the Lissitzky believed. The shadow, of course, is the memory of the exhibit of Degenerate Art that shadows the fascinating exhibit on the art of the museum on the floor above. Ardent belief in a cause that fails is better than faith in a cause that is evil, but one wonders whether that belief was chosen or merely fated, whether the accident of birth saved him from being Speer or Riefenstahl.