Movement: Cubism; Suprematism
Education: Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture
“Feeling is the determining factor… and thus art arrives at non-objective representation through Suprematism.”
“No more ‘likenesses of reality,’ no idealistic images, nothing but desert!”
“Academic naturalism, the naturalism of the Impressionists, Cezanneism, Cubism etc, all these, in a way, are nothing more than dialectic methods which, as such, in no sense determine the true value of an artwork.”
Kasimir Malevich's Famous Works
"Lady on a Tram Station," 1913
"Reservist of the First Division," 1914
"Painterly Realism of a Boy with a Knapsack," 1915
"Black Square," 1915
"Dynamic Suprematism," 1915
"Suprematist Composition," 1916
"White on White," 1918
Kasimir Malevich was a Russian art theorist and painter, best known as the founder of the avant-garde Suprematist movement circa World War I.
Kasimir Malevich's Early Life
Kazimierz Malewicz was born in Kiev in winter of 1879, the first child of Ludwika and Seweryn Malewicz, Roman Catholics of Polish descent who had settled in the Russian Empire after the partition of Poland. With employment opportunities scarce for ethnic refugees, the family moved often in search of work, traveling through small hamlets and plantations in Ukraine. When his father secured a managerial position at a sugar factory, Malevich took a part-time job under him to help support his 13 younger siblings.
Malevich showed an inclination towards art at an early age, fascinated by peasant embroidery and painted stoves. He began replicating the regional folk style he encountered at 12. Determined to carve out a career in visual arts, he enrolled at the Kiev School of Art in 1895.
In 1896, the family moved to the riverside town of Kursk, where Malevich met Kazimira Zgleits and married her three years later.
Kasimir Malevich's Creative Development
After the death of his father in 1904, the artist moved to Moscow and enrolled at the Stroganov School of Art while attending private lessons from the renowned art teacher Ivan Rerberg. His theoretical knowledge and exposure to modern, Post-Impressionist techniques
grew when he was accepted into the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture to study under Konstantin Korovin and Leonid Pasternak, though the influence of Art Nouveau and Symbolism feature intermittently in his early work.
Over the next decade, Malevich’s work developed a more abstract aesthetic as he encountered various experimental artists such as Wassily Kandinsky and Mikhail Larionov. Larionov invited him to join the Jack of Diamonds collective in 1910, though their friendship subsequently soured after a disagreement. By that point, Malevich’s marriage to Zgleits had ended and he had formed a romantic relationship with Sogia Radalovich. With little keeping him in Moscow, Malevich moved to Saint Petersburg to work with the Futurist artists who were known as the Youth Union.
Kasimir Malevich's Mid-Life
In 1915, he established the principles of Suprematism in a published manifesto titled “From Cubism to Suprematism,” calling for a focus on pure abstraction without the trappings of any figurative elements. After the October Revolution of 1917, he accepted a position at the People’s Commissariat for Enlightenment, working as a museum curator and designing the curriculum for art education for the newly-formed Soviet Republic.
After completing the final draft of his book “On New Systems in Art” in 1919, Malevich went to Vitebsk to join the faculty of Marc Chagall’s new art school, where he became an influential figure after Chagall’s departure a year later. A group titled UNOVIS (loosely translated to Affirmers of New Art) was formed around the artist’s theories, focusing on graphic design and textile patterns.
As the cultural and social climate of the country began shifting in the early 1930s, Malevich’s work was increasingly regarded anti-Soviet. He was arrested upon returning from a trip to the West in 1930 and interrogated about his political beliefs, causing some of his friends to burn his writings as a preventive measure. Within the next two years, he was banned from teaching at state schools or exhibiting at government-funded venues. The last few years of his life were spent painting the pastoral scenes of his and youth and portraits of family and friends. He died of lymphatic cancer in Saint Petersburg in summer of 1935 and was buried in a self-designed coffin with a black square embossed on the lid. Art lovers can buy Kasimir Malevich's artworks online.
Kasimir Malevich's Museums / Galleries
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg
Museum of Modern Art, New York
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Aichi, Japan
Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel
Museum Ludwig, Cologne
The Albertina, Vienna
Books / Publications
“Kazimir Malevich: The Climax of Disclosure,” by Rainer Crone and David Moos
“Kasimir Malevich and the Art of Geometry,” by John Milner
“Masters of Art: Malevich,” by Charlotte Douglas
“Painting Revolution: Kandinsky, Malevich and the Russian Avant-Garde,” by John Bowlt