Babylon Nights Tidbit #19 ~ Kazimir Malevich

by Daniel Depp

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Babylon Nights Tidbit #19 ~ Kazimir Malevich

Unread postby Liz » Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:10 am

I know you were hoping for a tour of Cannes to follow the Cannes Film Festival. But alas, you will have to wait. The Christmas season has intruded big time on my tidbit writing. I had this one done already, so here he is. Hopefully, I will have the Cannes Tour done sometime tomorrow. And if not, look for it the next day.


Pg. 178:


It was the night of the premiere of Andrei’s new film, White Square, about the Constructivist artist Kazimir Malevich. For the first time Andrei had shot a film in French, so at least there would be English subtitles. It was one of the more talked about premieres at the festival.


White Square:

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Kazimir Severinovich Malevich (February 23, 1879, previously 1878 – May 15, 1935) was a Russian painter and art theoretician, born in Ukraine of ethnic Polish parents. He was a pioneer of geometric abstract art and the originator of the Avant-garde Suprematist movement. Recently Ukrainian art historians established the precise birth date of the artist to be February 23, 1879. Malevich and Ukraine, by professor D. Gorbachev, 2006, Kiev, reveals many new biographical details. French art historian Andrei Nakov re-established Malevich's birth year as 1879 (and not 1878), and argues for restoration of the Polish spelling of his name.

Kazimir Malevich was born near Kiev in the Kiev Governorate of the Russian Empire. His parents, Seweryn and Ludwika Malewicz, were ethnic Poles, and he was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church. His father was the manager of a sugar factory. Kazimir was the first of fourteen children, (only nine of the children survived into adulthood). His family moved often and he spent most of his childhood in the villages of Ukraine amidst sugar-beet plantations, far from centers of culture. Until age 12 he knew nothing of professional artists, though art had surrounded him in childhood. He delighted in peasant embroidery, and in decorated walls and stoves. He was able to paint in the peasant style. He studied drawing in Kiev from 1895 to 1896.

From 1896 to 1904 Kazimir Malevich lived in Kursk. In 1904, after the death of his father, he moved to Moscow. He studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture from 1904 to 1910 and also in the studio of Fedor Rerberg in Moscow. In 1911 he participated in the second exhibition of the group Soyuz Molodyozhi (Union of Youth) in St. Petersburg, together with Vladimir Tatlin and, in 1912, the group held its third exhibition, which included works by Aleksandra Ekster, Tatlin and others. In the same year he participated in an exhibition by the collective Donkey's Tail in Moscow. By that time his works were influenced by Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov, Russian avant-garde painters who were particularly interested in Russian folk art called lubok. In March 1913 a major exhibition of Aristarkh Lentulov's paintings opened in Moscow. The effect of this exhibition was comparable with that of Paul Cézanne in Paris in 1907, as all the main Russian avant-garde artists of the time (including Malevich) immediately absorbed the cubist principles and began using them in their works. Already in the same year the Cubo-Futurist opera Victory Over the Sun with Malevich's stage-set became a great success. In 1914 Malevich exhibited his works in the Salon des Independants in Paris together withAlexander Archipenko, Sonia Delaunay, Aleksandra Ekster and Vadim Meller, among others.

In 1915, Malevich laid down the foundations of Suprematism. He published his manifesto From Cubism to Suprematism. In 1915–1916 he worked with other Suprematist artists in a peasant/artisan co-operative in Skoptsi and Verbovka village. In 1916–1917 he participated in exhibitions of the Jack of Diamonds group in Moscow together with Nathan Altman, David Burliuk and A. Ekster, among others. Famous examples of his Suprematist works include Black Square (1915)] and White on White (1918).

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Black Square, 1915, Oil on Canvas, State Russian Museum, St.Petersburg


In 1918, Malevich decorated a play, Mystery Bouffe, by Vladimir Mayakovskiy produced by Vsevolod Meyerhold.

He was also interested in aerial photography and aviation, which led him to abstractions inspired by or derived from aerial landscapes.

After the October Revolution, Malevich became a member of the Collegium on the Arts of Narkompros, the commission for the protection of monuments and the museums commission (all from 1918–1919). He taught at the Vitebsk Practical Art School in the USSR (now part of Belarus) (1919–1922), theLeningrad Academy of Arts (1922–1927), the Kiev State Art Institute (1927–1929), and the House of the Arts in Leningrad (1930). He wrote the book The World as Non-Objectivity (Munich 1926; English trans. 1959) which outlines his Suprematist theories. Malevich described his aesthetic theory, known as Suprematism, as "the supremacy of pure feeling or perception in the pictorial arts." He viewed the Russian Revolution as having paved the way for a new society in which materialism would eventually lead to spiritual freedom.

In 1927, he traveled to Warsaw and then to Berlin and Munich for a retrospective which finally brought him international recognition. He arranged to leave most of the paintings behind when he returned to the Soviet Union. Malevich's assumption that a shifting in the attitudes of the Soviet authorities towards the modernist art movement would take place after the death of Lenin and Trotsky's fall from power, were proven correct in a couple of years, when the Stalinist regime turned against formes of abstractism, considering them a type of "bourgeois" art, that could not express social realities. As a consequence, many of his works were confiscated and he was banned from creating and exhibiting similar art.

Critics derided Malevich for reaching art by negating everything good and pure: love of life and love of nature. The Westernizer artist and art historian Alexandre Benois was one such critic. Malevich responded that art can advance and develop for art's sake alone, regardless of its pleasure: art does not need us, and it never did.

Malevich's work only recently reappeared in art exhibitions in Russia after a long absence. Since then art followers have labored to reintroduce the artist to Russian lovers of painting. A book of his theoretical works with an anthology of reminiscences and writings has been published.

Malevich died of cancer in Leningrad on May 15, 1935. On his deathbed he was exhibited with the black square above him. His ashes were sent to Nemchinovka, and buried in a field near his dacha. A white cube decorated with a black square was placed on his tomb. The city of Leningrad bestowed a pension on Malevich's mother and daughter. "No phenomenon is mortal," Malevich wrote in an unpublished manuscript, "and this means not only the body but the idea as well, a symbol that one is eternally reincarnated in another form which actually exists in the conscious and unconscious person."

Black Square, the fourth version of his magnum opus painted in the 1920s was discovered in 1993 in Samara and purchased by Inkombank for $250,000. In April 2002 the painting was auctioned for an equivalent of one million dollars. The purchase was financed by the Russian philanthropist Vladimir Potanin, who donated funds to Russian Ministry of Culture and ultimately to State Hermitage Museum collection. According to the Hermitage website, this was the largest private contribution to state art museums since the October Revolution.

On November 3, 2008 a work by Malevich entitled Suprematist Composition from 1916 set the world record for any Russian work of art and any work sold at auction for that year, selling at Sotheby’s in New York City for just over $60 million U.S. (far surpassing his previous record of $17 million set in 2000).

Other works:

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1903

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1909

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1912
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The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Babylon Nights Tidbit #19 ~ Kazimir Malevich

Unread postby fireflydances » Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:46 am

There is a real peacefulness to this artist's work. You kind of get lost in it you know? Reminds me of this Canadian artist, Agnes Martin, who worked in the US in the 1950s-1970s. Saw this fascinating documentary on her a couple years ago. Her work was similarly geometrical but also contained many lines, usually carefully executed pencil markings. You look at White Square here or Martin's canvases and wonder -- why would someone who can work paint, can create anything with their hands resort to something so completely simple? I believe artists who do very abstract work, whether minimalists like Martin or suprematists like Malevich have taken their art to a more "mental" plain. Some attempt to capture pure thought perhaps, enter an eternal realm.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies


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