Kazimir Malevich

The Visionary Behind Suprematism

In the early 20th century, while Western Europe boasted prominent artists, a revolutionary abstract art movement was taking shape in Eastern Europe, spearheaded by the visionary Russian artist Kazimir Malevich. Known as Suprematism, this Russian avant-garde movement would go on to influence renowned European movements like Bauhaus and De Stijl. Malevich's ideas would captivate the minds of future artists such as Johannes Itten and Piet Mondrian, leaving an indelible mark on the art world.

Born in 1879 to Polish Catholic parents in Kyiv, Ukraine part of the Russian Empire at the time, Malevich displayed his creative spirit from a tender age, adorning objects and walls in his home with his artistic flair. Though unaware of the diverse artistic expressions flourishing in Ukrainian villages, he embarked on the path of artistic exploration. During his formative years, Malevich pursued drawing studies in Kyiv, laying the groundwork for his artistic journey.

Malevich Suprematist Composition 1915 Journal

In 1904, following the loss of his father, Malevich moved to Moscow to study at the esteemed Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture. This transition from the countryside to the bustling city marked a turning point in his artistic trajectory. Malevich delved into abstract ideas, often drawing inspiration from religious themes. Joining the group Soyuz Molodyozhi, organised by the Russian avant-garde, he began exhibiting his paintings alongside fellow group members, leaving an imprint on the burgeoning art scene.

In 1913, the renowned Russian cubist artist Aristarkh Lentulov exhibited his captivating pieces, prompting a shift in the Russian avant-garde towards cubist-inspired paintings, including Malevich, who would become captivated by the ideas of abstractism. As war clouds loomed over Europe with the onset of the First World War, Malevich passionately advocated for Russia's participation and created lithographs in support, often depicting Russian soldiers and the war's front lines.

Malevich Black and Red Square Journal

Malevich presented Suprematism as a progression from Cubism, although its initial impact remained limited to the Russian avant-garde and Eastern Europe. Following the October Revolution, Malevich found himself navigating a complex relationship with the rising communist regime. While his abstract works were appreciated by Vladimir Lenin, who recognised their cultural significance in the emerging Soviet Union, the tide turned when Joseph Stalin assumed power. Stalin labelled Suprematism as "bourgeois" art, disconnected from social realities, leading to the confiscation of Malevich's works and a ban on similar creations. Moreover, his Polish ancestry led to his wrongful arrest by the KGB, who accused him of espionage. Fortunately, he was eventually released.

Malevich Black Square Journal

Malevich continued to create new works within the confines of the Soviet Union until his death in 1935 from cancer. Notably, his painting, The Black Square, became an enduring symbol of Malevich himself. At his funeral, grieving family members and mourners adorned banners with the iconic artwork, paying tribute to the legacy of this extraordinary artist taken from the world too soon.

Malevich had left his mark on the art world as not just one of the greatest artists of the Russian avant-garde but one of the great lesser-known artists of the 20th century. In the modern day, you can see some of Malevich's work at the Museum of Modern Art and Guffenheim in New York, Wilhelm-Hack-Museum in Ludwigshafen, Germany and the State Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki, Greece.

Sumprematist Compostion 1915 Blog
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To celebrate the remarkable contributions of Kazimir Malevich, we have meticulously recreated three of his suprematist masterpieces: Suprematist Composition, Black and Red Square, and his magnum opus Black Square. Using EcoBoard and Eco Postal boxes, we have ensured that these recreations reflect the ingenuity and creativity that Malevich epitomised.

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