Morning in the Village after Snowstorm by Kazimir Malevich

Morning in the Village after Snowstorm (Utro posle v’iugi v derevne) is today found in the Guggenheim Museum within the US. It was completed in 1912, just before the artist moved on, stylistically.

For several years he would work within this approach, a type of Cubism mixed with Futurism, where gradients of colour would be used to fill flat shapes. He would essentially break up a composition into its fundamental parts and handle each one separately, rather than trying to fuse them altogether as traditional art would do. At this stage, though, he was still relying on items from the real world to inspire him and in most cases you can still identify most elements of the scene, even after they have been passed through his prism of Cubist-Futurism. Soon after this period he would go even more abstract, to the point where any connection to reality was lost in most cases. He would then revert back from that after coming under pressure about his work from the ruling powers within Russia who wanted a return to more traditional values throughout society. You will see elements of other artists within this painting, where similarities exist between the likes of Chagall, Klee and Leger.

The style was Russian-born but also influenced by other European nations, including Italy and France. The continent was a hive of creativity at this time and much innovation was being exchanged across borders thanks to the openness of artists and their passion to talk about their work. Malevich was essentially at a crossroads during this period, and would then push forward again to work with his Suprematist style which would become the main signature style of his career. Away from the discussion around his style, there is also an important concentration on the lives of the poor within this painting which was also an important element of Russian art throughout the first half of the 20th century. Even as his style changed, he would still regularly return to the same themes and tried to be positive but truthful about the lives of the agricultural workers who built the backbone of the Russian nation at this time.

Malevich himself was also from a poor background and so he would have certainly understood and respected the working poor more than anyone. There was considerable political upheaval during his lifetime across Russia and this would sometimes impact his own work, though he tried to express himself with autonomy as much as he could. It was particularly in later life that his modern ideas started infringing on the wishes of the ruling powers and so he would have to tweak some of his ideas in order to avoid getting in trouble again. Despite these issues he was still able to leave behind a highly influential body of work, much of which has managed to survive to the present day and remains highly regarded right across the world.

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