Die Kunstismen (Les Ismes de l´art, The Isms of Art), designed and published by El Lissitzky and Hans Arp in 1925, covers art developments from 1914 to 1924 with a groundbreaking layout and typography.
Eliezer Lissitzky was born November 11, 1890 in Pochinok, near Smolensk, Russia. He enrolled in the department of architecture at the Technische Hochschule in Darmstadt, where he studied from 1909 to 1914. During this period he also traveled to France, Italy, and Belgium. When World War I broke out, he returned to Russia and studied from 1915 to 1916 at the Riga (Latvia) Polytechnical Institute (now Riga Technical University). In 1919 he began working under the name El Lissitzky and abandoned figurative art for Suprematism. He participated in the production of a series of art magazines, published a number of books, including (with Jean Arp) the three-language Die Kunstismen—Les Ismes de l’art—The Isms of Art (1925), and became a member of the well-known Dutch group De Stijl. He also met the artist-designer László Moholy-Nagy, who helped transmit Lissitzky’s ideas on art to western Europe and the United States through his teaching at the Bauhaus. In 1925 Lissitzky returned to Moscow, where he continued to be an innovative force in book and exhibition design. He created Soviet pavilions for a number of international expositions, and he collaborated with Aleksandr Rodchenko and other avant-garde artists on the remarkable propaganda magazine SSSR na stroyke (1930–41). Despite his poor health and the increasingly strong rejection of Modernist aesthetics by the Stalinist government, Lissitzky persevered in his artistic endeavours. He died of tuberculosis in 1941 in Moscow.
Hans (Jean) Arp was born in 1886 in Strasbourg. Between 1900 and 1908, he studied art at the Strasbourg School of Arts and Crafts, the Weimar Academy of Art, and the Académie Julian in Paris.. Since then living in Switzerland, Arp began to establish contacts with artists he had met in Paris and cofounded the Moderner Bund (with Oskar Lüthy), an exhibition society for Swiss modern artists. He also traveled widely, establishing connections with artists and writers in Paris, the expressionist Blaue Reiter group headed by Wasily Kandinsky in Munich, and Herwarth Walden´s Sturm Gallery and magazine in Berlin. When the war ended, Arp was able to reestablish the international contacts that had been so important to him prior to 1914. In Cologne he formed a Dada collaborative with Johannes Theodor Baargeld and Max Ernst, contributing poetic texts to the collages of Ernst. Hans Arp died in 1966 in Basel.