El Lissitzky. Suprematist story about 2 squares
in 6 structures

Script: Mikhail Karasik
Animation: Irina Karpova
Music: Vladimir Rannev
St Petersburg, 2010

This film is based on El Lissitzky’s book Suprematichesky skaz pr 2 kvadrata v 6-ti postroikakh [‘Suprematist story about 2 squares in 6 structures’], which was published in Berlin in 1922. This 16-page book consists merely of six ‘structures’ and four pages of textual compositions and is the only example of Suprematist illustration in a children’s book. Its subject is the birth of a new world and the fight with the old one. The black square represents the plastic system used by Malevich; the red square, the system employed by Lissitzky. There was also a theoretical dispute being waged between teacher and pupil; this is expressed in the illustrations — in the conflict between the black and red squares. The film, like the book, ends with the affirmation of the red square. It is well known that Lissitzky intended to use the book as the basis for an animated film. This transformation of illustrations into a film is typical of the beginning of the 1920s, when the first abstract cartoons and avant-garde films were being created in the West.