The Knifegrinder by Kazimir Malevich

This painting is loosely dated to 1912/1913 and there has been a lack of clarity to many of this artist’s work because of his lack of documentation.

The artwork is sometimes referred to its full title of The Knife Grinder (Principle of Glittering) and it can be found at the Yale Unviersity Art Gallery which is based in New Haven, Connecticut. Cubo-Futurist art aimed to draw together two different modern art movements and make use of their best features. The Knifegrinder was very much in line with Malevich’s use of the poor as inspiration for his work. Countless workers in the field were also covered in his semi-futuristic (commonly termed as Cubo-Futurist) style. The most memorable element of this was the gradients of colour which helped to create a third dimension to his artworks. The colours selected in this painting were particularly bright, where as in other cases he went for shades of grey to give more of a metallic finish.

Further examples of the artist’s work in this style include Girls in the Fields, Haymaking, Peasants (1930 and 1932) and Morning in the Village after Snowstorm. There were many more to see besides just those ones as this artist continued along this stylistic path for several years. He was also particularly productive as an artist and many paintings remain from his overall career, even though plenty were likely lost or displaced in the early years after his death. The artist loved to capture people at work and found room for this type of content right across his career, varying the style in which he depicted the workers as his approach changed over time.

This important piece can be found in the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery, Connecticut, US. America has held a deep interest in all European art, dating back to the early periods of the Renaissance, all the way up to more recent exponents such as Malevich. Indeed, many of their own famous artists have actually been born abroad, but moved across as young immigrants, then contributing some extraordinary art that has helped to place their adopted nation as amongst the most forward thinking artistic nations. We see that with Warhol, Rothko and many more besides. Another related artist, Kandinsky, would do much the same in relocating from Russia to Germany where he would find an open minded public who were very receptive to his ideas for how art should be.

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