El Lissitzky. Double-page spread from Pro dva kvadrata. Suprematicheskii skaz v 6-ti postroikakh (Of Two Squares: A Suprematist Tale in Six Constructions). 1920
This short picture book for children presented a radical rethinking of the genre through the combination of dynamic page layouts with a nonobjective visual language of geometric forms, and a restricted palette of red, black, and white. Using only the sparest text, Lissitzky tells the story of two squares, one red and one black, sent from the cosmos to battle it out and bring order to chaos. At the end of the tale, the red square vanquishes the black in what is often considered an allegorical retelling of the victorious Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. However, in the end, the obtuse poetic terseness and unflinching abstraction, unfamiliar to children’s eyes, didn’t connect with its target audience.
Learn more at MoMA.org/centuryofthechild