Item #1557 [Illustrator’s Dummy of:] Arba’ah Teyashim. [Four Billy Goats.]. El Lissitzky, Uriel Kahana, Benzion Raskin.
[Illustrator’s Dummy of:] Arba’ah Teyashim. [Four Billy Goats.]
[Illustrator’s Dummy of:] Arba’ah Teyashim. [Four Billy Goats.]
[Illustrator’s Dummy of:] Arba’ah Teyashim. [Four Billy Goats.]
Original Book Dummy by Kahana , Cover by Lissitzky

[Illustrator’s Dummy of:] Arba’ah Teyashim. [Four Billy Goats.]

[Warsaw]: [ca. 1922]. Original book dummy. Designed and illustrated by Uriel Kahana. Cover design attributed to El Lissitzky. Illustrations and text-bands (the earlier typewritten ones overlaid by print-proofs) are mounted on the pages. With corrections, notes and other signs in black and red pencil. Together with two red-and-black proofs of the front cover design. With ten extra copies of illustrations (clipped), and one leaf with proofs of the signet of Tsil Tslil (the series of the publisher, in which the book appeared). The last leaf of the printed book is omitted from the dummy. 18 p. Some of the mounted text-bands are creased (those not pasted, kept separately). Leaves are chipped at edges. Paper yellowed due to aging. Slightly dusted and stained because of the glue used to paste the illustrations and the text-bands. Overall in good condition.

Book dummy of Arba’ah Teyashim, the Four Billy Goats, illustrations are attributed both to El Lissitzky and Uriel Kahana.

The maquette includes identical illustrations to those in the printed edition, however, the text arrangement slightly differs. Twenty of the drawings are mounted onto the pages of the text band, the publisher’s signet, and a city landscape — appear on the title and the last pages in print — are presented separately, just as the extra copies of eight further illustrations. The collection also includes a sheet with five print proofs of the Tsil Tslil signet, Tarbut’s children’s book series.

The illustrations are deeply in the manner of Lissitzky’s famous Had Gadya (1919) and Yingl tsingl khvat (1922), and those less fancy drawings for the children’s books by Benzion Raskin, such as Der Ber, Di Hun […], or Der Milner […]. The cover motif (two proofs are included) — an arrangement of Hebrew letters as architectural elements in a dynamic design, printed in red and black — unambiguously attributed to El Lissitzky by many sources, clearly mirrors Lissitzky’s contemporary Proun typography. (Perloff 1998) Alexander Kantsedikas, in his thorough and detailed monograph about Lissitzky’s Jewish period — a book co-published by the El Lissitzky Foundation — presumes that, although the illustrations are attributed to Uriel Kahana, they might have been created by Lissitzky. Kantsedikas points out that “the book itself was one of eleven written by Ben Zion Raskin that Lissitzky had agreed to illustrate according to a contract signed in 1919. Several publications on Lissitzky’s work mention the cover and illustrations of Arba'ah Teyashim [Sophie] Lissitzky-Küppers, El Lissitzky: Life, Letters, Texts [London: Thames and Hudson, 1967], ill. 15; Tschihold; Kazovsky. However, the title page clearly attributes these works to another artist, Uriel Kahana, and hence the book Me-'achrone Ha-dor: 'Uri'el Kahan'a, 'Adrikhal, Tsayar, Me'atsev [From the Last of the Generation: Uriel Kahana, Architect, Painter, Designer; in Hebrew] (Ra'anana: Kahana, 2003) also includes them as part of the latter’s oeuvre. […] (Kantsedikas 2018; p. 130, note 6)

The present book dummy is from the collection of Uriel Kahana, which enhances the possibility that the illustrations are by Kahana, however as Kantsedikas also points out “[i]n 1922, when Arba'ah Teyashim was published in Warsaw by Tarbut, Uriel Kahana (1903–1965) was 19 years old and on his way to Palestine. Only a year later he graduated from the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium. In 1933 Kahana earned a diploma in architecture from University College London. During his career he was not known for book illustrations. Hence the question of whether these particular book illustrations should be attributed to Kahana or Lissitzky remains controversial until today. Those who attribute the illustrations to Lissitzky point to a high degree of correspondence with his recognized style of the period. On the other hand, these illustrations do not necessarily reach the same artistic level.” (Kantsedikas 2018; p. 130, note 6)

The cover design is included in the collections of MoMA and the Getty Research Institute under Lissitzky’s name.

Provenance: The Uriel Kahana Collection Ref.: MoMA 563.1977; Getty Russian Modernism 452 Bibl.: Kantsedikas, A.: Lissitzky: Jewish Period 1916-1919. Unicorn Publishing, 2018.; Perloff, N., [et al.]: Monuments of the Future: Designs by El Lissitzky. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 1998.; Tschichold, J.: Über El Lissitzky. In: Imprimatur III. Ein Jahrbuch für Bücherfreunde. Gesellschaft der Bücherfreunde zu Hamburg, 1932. pp. 97–112.; Woodruff, D.; Grubišić, L.: Russian Modernism: The Collections of the Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities, I. Santa Monica: Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1997. p. 96.;.

Price: €365,000.00

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