Untitled (Suprematist Composition) 1919-1926 by Kazimir Malevich

This is one of a number of Malevich drawings to be found in the collection of the Guggenheim Museum, specifically the venue in New York, USA. These items have been dated to around the artist’s Suprematist period but no more accurately than that.

Kazimir Malevich reduced his forms down to the simplest arrangements possible during his time working within the Suprematist movement. He would normally flesh out his ideas on paper using standard drawing tools prior to starting work with oils. His sketches therefore allow us to understand much more about his working practices, such as how his initial thoughts would develop over time before reaching the final stage where they would be formed in oils. The drawings themselves would vary in levels of detail, with some being very rough and approximate, with later iterations being precise and entirely presentable as artworks in their own right. These stages would signify how close Malevich was to his final design and many examples of each have been uncovered from his career, some within notepads, others found on separate sleeves of paper. Even his most simple of drawings today would receive very high valuations, such is the huge interest that remains in the career of this highly influential Russian artist.

Here we find a simple composition framed within a light border, with the rest of the paper left entirely blank, although there is some small signs of water damage to the top right hand corner which reminds us of the age that this was produced, nearly a century ago. Two large rectangles intercept each other, in strong black colour, whilst several further lines are added close by. The lines are very clear, almost as if the artist was drawing architectural plans, where precision is essential. The artist would have worked this precisely after fleshing out ideas earlier in a more relaxed manner, and this study essentially bridged the gap between his earlier musings and the final painting which would be constructed in oils, either onto wood or canvas in most cases.

Another abstract artist who left a highly significant contribution was Dutch painter, Piet Mondrian. He gifted us the likes of Composition II, Composition in White and Blue and Composition No 1 Gray Red but also produced a large number of more traditional work, such as Expressionist styles. He would go on a similar pathway to Malevich, slowing creeping further and deeper into the world of abstract art. He felt comfortable in this new world, though many of his abstract artworks were inspired by the real world, it just happened to be rather difficult for the public to identify the original sources of inspiration. In some cases he would later explain some of these ideas, such as top-down views of city layouts, for example. He remains much loved and his original paintings command extraordinary valuations on the rare occasions that they come up for sale in the present day.

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