1913 marked the arrival of this Cubist portrait and Malevich, its creator, was soon to go on a stylistic path of discovery that would ultimately lead to the formation of the Suprematist art movement.
This painting has been classified under the first peasant cycle which was a body of work by Malevich that focused on the lives of the poor within rural parts of his nation. He would do a follow-up series some years later though that was in quite an alternative style. What we have here in front of us is highly similar to the work of Cubist painters such as Gris and Braque, with examples including the likes of A Pot of Geraniums, Bottles and Knife and Violin and Candlestick. He would also enter the world of Cubist-Futurism, a related style which also proved fruitful for a number of years before he then came about the signature style of his career which he termed Suprematism. That involved true abstraction for the first time and resulted in arrangements of simple shapes and lines that had finally done away with any connection to reality at all.
Even today we marvel at the variations found within Malevich’s career, particularly when we consider how he came under pressure to conform to more traditional styles in the latter part of his life. He would devote much of his time to the lives of the poor in his work, and this would actually find favour with all of the different ruling powers who served in Russia across his lifetime. Today we can compare artworks such as this with greats like Gris and Braque, before then focusing on all the other styles that he embraced across his career, most of which he did so very effectively. His reputation remains immensely strong across the world, and his oeuvre is dispersed accordingly so.
This painting is believed to be in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Several of Malevich’s paintings can be found in this country, with more spread across Europe and into the US, such was the international profile that he created over a period of several decades. Despite being highly restricted at times in his life, he was able to influence others who then carried his ideas onwards in other parts of the world, most notably Germany. He had held a well received exhibition there and decided to leave some of his paintings when returning back to Russia because of his expectation that they would be siezed. This fear was proven correct and his items held locally were taken, but those left elsewhere could help to spread his ideas with the help of his passionate followers who felt even more strongly in support of the artist once they became aware of his difficulties back in Russia.