Kazimir Malevich

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Kazimir Malevich
Self-Portrait, 1912
The strong colours suggest the
influence of Matisse and Fauvism.
Birth name Kazimir Severinovich Malevich
Born 23 February 1879(1879-02-23)
Kiev Governorate of Russian Empire
Died 15 May 1935(1935-05-15) (aged 57)
Leningrad, Soviet Union
Nationality Russian Empire, Soviet Union
Field Painting
Training Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture
Movement Suprematism
Works Black Square, 1915; White on White, 1919
Head of a peasant girl by Malevich, 1912/13, is abstract and cubist
Cow and fiddle Malevich, 1913. Influence of Braque and cubism.
Black Square, 1915, Oil on Canvas, State Russian Museum, St Petersburg. One of the early suprematist works; geometrical and abstract
This is the painting which sold for $60 million: Suprematist Composition (blue rectangle over the red beam) Malevich, 1916.

Kazimir Malevich [1] (Kiev, 23 February 1879 – 15 May 1935) was a Russian[2][3] painter and art theoretician. He was born in Ukraine of ethnic Polish parents. He was a pioneer of geometric abstract art and the originator of the avant-garde Suprematism movement.

In March 1913 a major exhibition of Aristarkh Lentulov's paintings opened in Moscow. The effect of this exhibition was comparable with that of Paul Cézanne in Paris in 1907, as all the main Russian avant-garde artists of the time (including Malevich) immediately absorbed the cubist principles and began using them in their works.

Already in the same year the Cubo-Futurist opera Victory Over the Sun with Malevich's stage-set became a great success. In 1914 Malevich exhibited his works in the Salon des Independants in Paris.

Suprematism[change | change source]

In 1915, Malevich laid down the foundations of Suprematism. He published his manifesto From Cubism to Suprematism. In 1916–1917 he took part in exhibitions of the Jack of Diamonds group in Moscow. Famous examples of his Suprematist works were exhibited there, including Black Square (1915) and White on White (1918).

After the October Revolution, Malevich became a member of the Collegium on the Arts of Narkompros, the commission for the protection of monuments and the museums commission (all from 1918–1919).

He taught at the Vitebsk Practical Art School in the USSR (now part of Belarus) (1919–1922), the Leningrad Academy of Arts (1922–1927), the Kiev State Art Institute (1927–1929), and the House of the Arts in Leningrad (1930). He wrote the book The World as Non-Objectivity (Munich 1926; English trans. 1959) which outlines his Suprematist theories.

In 1927 he traveled to Warsaw, and then to Berlin and Munich, for a retrospective exhibition. This finally brought him international recognition.

Malevich arranged to leave most of the paintings behind when he returned to the Soviet Union, because he could see what was going to happen.

Malevich thought a shift in attitude of the Soviet authorities towards the modernist art movement would take place after the death of Lenin. This proved correct. In a couple of years the Stalinist regime turned against forms of abstractism, considering them a type of 'bourgeois' art which could not express social reality. As a consequence, many of his works were confiscated and he was banned from creating and exhibiting similar art.

Critics derided Malevich for "negating everything good and pure: love of life and love of nature". Malevich responded that art can advance and develop for art's sake alone, regardless of its pleasure: art does not need us, and it never did.

Malevich's work only recently reappeared in art exhibitions in Russia after a long absence. Since then art followers have worked to reintroduce the artist to Russian lovers of painting. A book of his theoretical works with an anthology of reminiscences and writings has been published.

Present valuation[change | change source]

On 3 November 2008 a work by Malevich entitled Suprematist Composition from 1916 set the world record for any Russian work of art and any work sold at auction for that year. It sold at Sotheby’s in New York City for just over $60 million U.S. (far surpassing his previous record of $17 million set in 2000).

References[change | change source]

  1. Russian: Казимир Северинович Малевич, Polish: Kazimierz Malewicz, Ukrainian: Казимир Северинович Малевич, German: Kasimir Malewitsch
  2. Malevich, Kasimir — A Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Art
  3. Casimir Malevich — The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition