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From Unovis to uNOWis

November 14th, 2013 by Willem Jan Renders

Left group of the Victory Square in Vitebsk (4 ha.)

Right group of the Victory Square in Vitebsk (4 ha.)










I did it! I really did it! My first lecture in Russian! Only one year ago I would never have thought myself capable of doing this. Yesterday evening Alexander sent me some final improvements of the Russian text and after my lecture this morning he was full of compliments. Yes, they understood what I said! All the way from the conference to my hotel, all the way over Victory Square, along the long Lenin Boulevard and crossing Freedom Square I was singing ‘I did it my way’. Not too loud of course. You never know if there’s a law against singing in the streets here. Frank Sinatra might still be the enemy…

Alexander Lisov


So what was my lecture about? (As if that is of any importance in my euphoric mood!) It was about Unovis (Утвердитили нового искусства, the protagonists of new art). Malevich and Lissitzky founded the Unovis movement in Vitebsk in 1919 when they were teaching at the People’s Art School. But it was not so much on the history of this movement that I talked; it was a proposal to start Unovis again, here, in the city where it was founded some hundred years ago. Unovis today. Уновис сегодня. I cannot stop anymore.


The Unovis logo







The next question is of course why I would travel all the way here to propose this. But in order to post this text on time, we will save that for the next.

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