Suprematism (1915) by Kazimir Malevich

This painting is one of the more complex and colourful interpretations from Malevich’s series of works which were labelled under the term, Suprematism. This particular piece was completed in 1915.

The highly generic title for this painting makes it hard to find any specific information about it, particularly as the artist produced many works in the Suprematist movement between the years of around 1914-1916. Modern artists have had a tendancy to give vague titles to their work, often leaving them untitled and so Malevich is certainly not the worst of the offenders in that regard. Some historians will give precise numbering to items to avoid this, and then refer to them within catalogue raisonnes which would then become the starting point of discussions of particular paintings. In most cases, Malevich actually named his pieces with a more helpful description but it is worth remembering that he wanted this style of art to avoid delivering pre-conceived ideas and by being more informative within the title, he would have risked falling short of that ambition.

This artist would provide an energy into the Russian art scene which would move things forwards. Russia had devoted much of its attention to Social Realism, where fairly traditional and academic methods were used to capture the lives of local people across the country. This proved very popular and the traditionally-minded ruling powers did not have their conservative mindset challenged. Sadly, Malevich wanted to capture the same content within a more expressive and later abstract way, and this would eventually concern some about the moral suitability of this approach. Of course, there was no single ruling power during his lifetime, with such political turbulence the artist would have to consider the changing landscape at different points of his career, though he always tried to remain as faithful to himself as he possibly could.

Malevich worked within his own version of Cubism for a number of paintings and there would be a number of others who did similar on the other side of the European continuent. Juan Gris for example produced classics such as A Pot of Geraniums, Bananas and Bottle, Newspaper and Fruit Bowl and would work in a busy, detailed manner which provided plenty of connection to the original forms, whilst at the same time still producing a new world where angle and perspective followed new rules. He was one of the prominent members of the Cubist group, though within that there were many offshoots who took the basic idea into a number of exciting new directions and many also worked in other art movements at different times in their career. He remains much researched, both in terms of his own work but also in the relationships that he held with other Cubist artists.

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