Suprematism, 1921-1927 by Kazimir Malevich

Here we find Kazimir Malevich working within his Suprematist style, which involved a new abstract world taking supremacy over reality. He wanted to disconnect completely from pre-conceived ideas when one viewed his paintings within this new style.

This simple composition contains a solid red vertical line which sits centrally. A black line intercepts it just above the horizontal centre. One immediately considers Christ and the Cross, giving a potential religious connection that would make sense within the context of 20th century Russia. The unfilled parts of the painting are then left entirely white in order to avoid any distraction from the main shapes of interest. The two lines are of fairly similar widths and are certainly close enough to form of the cross for the comparison to be assumed as deliberate. Red and black were tones that appeared frequently within Malevich’s simpler paintings, and their impact could help overcome the relative lack of detail. Good examples elsewhere include Red Square, Black Cross and Black Square. These items would generally be fairly small in dimension, and Malevich would often exhibit them together, sometimes hung together on the same wall.

This painting is known as Hieratic Suprematist Cross by its owner – the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Sadly, the entry for it on their website does not include much information at all, other than their production date of around 1920-1921 which sits comfortably within the overall direction of change taken on by the artist at this time. That institution can claim to hold one of the finest collections of his paintings, with many more drawings also found here within their permanent collection. For Dutch-based Malevich followers, this is a real treat and his name often features prominently within their promotional activities. He remains highly regarded in Russia and abroad, and so many will be interested in studying the work of one of the earliest truly modern artists. His drawings found here also help us to understand more about the working processes that he used and how his ideas developed over time.

Today we can consider this artist to be amongst the finest to have come from Russia, and also offers something different from the movement in which so many of them were involved, namely Social Realism. Malevich’s strife during his own lifetime is now considered when viewing his work, and we understand that this was someone who overcame challenges within society to leave a significant legacy behind that would ultimately influence artists from around the world in the years that followed after his passing. He also helped existing artists at that time to gain momentum with their own use of abstraction and eventually some of these groundbreaking painters would finally break into the mainstream. Today, abstract art is one of the most dominate styles and retains a strong backing from the public.

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