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Self-Portrait : Constructor

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Switzerland (made)

  • Date:

    1924 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Lissitzky, El, born 1890 - died 1941 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Collage of lithographic and drawn elements added to a photographic image

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, room 512M, case MX23, shelf 2

Physical description

Monochrome photograph (silver gelatin print) of a collage of lithographic and drawn elements added to a photographic image. The photographic image was itself produced by superimposing two separate photographs : The Architects Equipment (showing El Lissitzky's hand holding a compass against graph paper with an arching line) and his Self Portrait, both taken in 1924 while Lissitzky was recovering from tuberculosis in a Swiss sanatorium. The resulting image fuses the artist's head, hand and tools. Large printed letters 'XYZ' appear in the top left hand portion of the image.

Place of Origin

Switzerland (made)


1924 (made)


Lissitzky, El, born 1890 - died 1941 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Collage of lithographic and drawn elements added to a photographic image


Height: 106 mm, Width: 116 mm, Height: 400 mm frame, Width: 400 mm frame, Depth: 30 mm frame

Object history note

Provenance: Mikhail Larionov ollection.

Descriptive line

Photograph : Self-Portrait: Constructor, Gelatin silver print, El Lissitzky, 1924

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Wilk, Christopher (ed.) Modernism : designing a new world 1914-1939. London: V&A Publications, 2006 Number: 1851774777 (pbk.)
Ute Eskilden et al. De lo humano: fotografía internacional, 1900-1950 Málago: Museo Picasso Málaga, 2008. 256 p. ISBN: 9788493490140 / 8493490148 / 9788475068190.

Labels and date

Gallery 100, ‘History of photography’, 2011-2012, label text :

El Lissitzky (1890-1941)
‘Self-portrait: Constructor’

Lissitzky presents himself as a designer with the
attributes of his profession: graph paper; a hand
holding a pair of compasses; and typographical
elements of his own letterhead. The montage was
made by contact printing the different negative
elements one after the other onto the same positive
printing-out paper.

Gelatin silver print
Museum no. Ph.142-1985
[07 03 2014]


Silver; Photographic paper



Subjects depicted

Capital letters; Hand; Typography; Compass; Imagination; Manual dexterity; Intellect; Face; Graph paper; Head




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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