cover art

Suprematicheskii Skaz

About 2 Squares

By El Lissitzky

Copyright by Editors, "Scythians"

Berlin, 1922

Verlag "Skythen"
Berlin W. 30, Eisenacher Strasse 10
Druck von E. Haberland, Leipzig

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About 2 Squares is a short picture book for children. It is also one of the most powerful expressions of revolutionary Communism and modern art. It deserves close and careful examination as we embark on a similar revolution from text on paper to electronic cyberspace.

[A Note on the Text]

This short book, intended for children of all ages, is perhaps the best-known work of El Lissitzky (1890-1941). Lissitzky was a Russian artist, architect, designer, typographer, and photographer who was active in the avante garde movement that flourished in Soviet Russia and in Germany, until the dominance of Soviet Realism by 1930 put a stop to its revolutionary activity. He directly influenced the typographical and display advertising innovations of the Bauhaus and "de Stijl". This book entirely integrates modern typographical effects, as Lissitzky intended, with his illustrations in the Suprematist style.

The original book About Two Squares was printed by letterpress, even the slanted text and illustrations. It was first produced ("constructed") in 1920 at the Soviet art institute UNOVIS in Vitebsk, and around April 1922 printed by Sycthian Press, Berlin, by Haberland Printers, Leipzig, in paperback, with 50 hardbound copies autographed and numbered, as the copyright page states.

A Dutch edition, published as Suprematisch worden van twee kwadraten in 6 konstrukties, edited by Theo van Doesburg, was published in The Hague by De Stijl, 1922. In Oct/Nov of that year, it appeared as a regular edition of De Stijl, vol 5 no 10/11. Also, 50 hardbound copies of the Dutch edition were numbered and signed by the author.

The Skythen book has been reproduced in facsimile by the Artists Bookworks, Copyright 1990, Forest Row, Sussex, England, and by MIT Press, 1991. ($40 paperback.) ISBN 0-262-12158-1, N6988.5.S9L5713 1991, 90-27444, 709'.2-dc20. The facsimile is the exact size (280 x 223mm) as the original, on library paper of the same color as the newsprint original.

The MIT edition has an English translation by Christiana Van Manen on tracing paper overlays between the facsimile pages. Accompanying the MIT Press edition, and bound similarly but separately, is a full critical commentary on the text and context, by Patricia Railing, More About 2 Squares. Please see the MIT Press website for complete information on these invaluable books, which are evidently backlisted, though some copies can still be found. We present El Lissitzky's work here in order to once again make it accessible to all. We encourage you to read the excellent work of Patricia Railing and Christiana Van Manen in their edition, since it provides much information we could not present here, and which is necessary or helpful in understanding El Lissitzky's work.