Kazimir Malevich, Kiev / Rússia
Suprematist Composition was completed in the same year Malevich wrote his Suprematist Manifesto, in which he expounded his artistic theory of suprematism (1916). This painting is renowned as the masterpiece of the suprematist movement, one of the most innovative art movements of the 20th century. It is now considered the paradigm of the Russian avant-garde and an icon in all of Russian art. The painting made its debut at the 1919-1920 State Exhibition in Moscow, quickly establishing Malevich as one of the most influential artists of his era.
The Running Man, 1933. After pioneering a new form of artistic abstraction, Malevich turned to pioneering a new way of representing the human form, making a variety of new humanoid figures. This particular painting also has a very specific story. The running figure is said to be a representation of the Soviet government, running away after the persecution and murder of peasants. The humanoid figure runs through the canvas, evincing a mood of panic and fear. A bloodied sword of violence stands upright in the background. At this time in Malevich’s career, he was being persecuted by the Soviet government, and as such this painting is more than a representation of a social wrong, it was a personal condemnation of the violence that had been done to him.
Suprematist Composition: White on White, 1918. Optimistic about the Russian Revolution, Malevich thought that the newfound freedom wound open the door to a new society, where materialism allowed for spiritual freedom. In his efforts, he studied aerial photography, and this painting is an effort make the the top square seem as if it is floating above the canvas. The stark canvas on White on White it is not devoid of emotion or deep artistic sentiment. Malevich’s brushstrokes are evident, and the soft outlines of the imprecise square make the white austerity of the painting seem more human. When it was created, it was one of the most radical paintings of its day, without reference to any outside reality.
Black Square, 1915. One of the most famous paintings in Russian art, Black Square marked the turning point of the Russian avant-garde movement. Before creating this painting, Malevich spent eighteen months in his studio, laboring over thirty non-objective paintings. In the end, he had created a series of non-objective paintings, of which Black Square is one. His invention of the word “suprematism” was meant to refer to the supremacy of the new geometric forms. Although the other works in this period were created with visual brushstrokes and asymmetrical forms, Black Square was the prominent piece, with no visual textures and a perfectly symmetrical shape, as it was the paramount of Malevich’s change to pure geometric abstraction: suprematism.
Morning in the Village after Snowstorm, 1913 Morning in the Village after Snowstorm is a perfect example of Russian Cubo-Futurism. Not quite cubism, it was a method of portraying object via geometric shapes. This painting was created by Malevich in his earlier career, when his paintings were still representational and he had not clearly delineated his theories of suprematism. Russian art can usually fall within two vast categories: that of a unique artistic style and technique, and that which depicts the social life of the Russian people. Although Malevich’s paintings are often in the first category, this painting does have some elements of social awareness. His depiction of Russian peasants, trudging through a snowstorm, five years before the Russian Revolution, cannot be a mere coincidence.