Kazimir Malevich

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Malevich with his paintings in Leningrad, 1924.
Born February 23, 1879(1879-02-23)
near Kyiv, Kyiv Governorate of Russian Empire (now Ukraine)
Died May 15, 1935(1935-05-15) (aged 56)
Leningrad, Soviet Union
Collections Stedelijk 29+198, Tretyakov 12, MoMA 7+38, Costakis, Pompidou 4+6+19, Moderna Museet 2, Guggenheim 2, Tate 2, Van Abbe 2, Artic 1+9, State Russian M 1, Wilhelm Hack 1, NGA Canberra 1, Thyssen 0+1, RGALI
Malevich with painting equipment, c.1902-04.

Kazimir Severinovich Malevich (Казимир Северинович Малевич, Kazimierz Malewicz, 1879–1935) was a Soviet and Ukrainian avant-garde artist and art theorist of Polish descent, whose pioneering work and writing had a profound influence on the development of non-objective art (or abstract art) in the 20th century. His concept of Suprematism sought to develop a form of expression that moved as far as possible from the world of natural forms (objectivity) and subject matter in order to access "the supremacy of pure feeling" and spirituality.

Life and work[edit]

Born 1879 near Kyiv to an ethnic Polish family as the first of 14 children, he is baptised in the Roman Catholic Church. His father manages a sugar factory. Family moves often and he spends most of his childhood in the villages of Ukraine amidst sugar-beet plantations, far from centers of culture. 1895-96 studies drawing in Kyiv.

1896-1904 lives in Kursk. 1904 moves to Moscow after the death of his father. 1904-10 studies at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, and in the studio of Fedor Rerberg in Moscow. 1911 participates in the second exhibition of the group Soyuz Molodyozhi (Union of Youth) in St Petersburg, together with Tatlin; 1912 at the group's third exhibition along the works by Ekster, Tatlin and others. 1912 participates in an exhibition by the collective Donkey's Tail in Moscow. By that time his works were influenced by Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov. 1912 shows the first time outside Russia, at the Blaue Reiter Exhibition. March 1913 a major exhibition of Aristarkh Lentulov's paintings in Moscow, Malevich absorbs the cubist principles. 1913 well-received Cubo-Futurist opera Victory Over the Sun with Malevich's stage-set. 1914 exhibits in the Salon des Independants in Paris with Archipenko, Delaunay, Ekster and Meller, among others.

1915 lays down the foundations of Suprematism in manifesto From Cubism to Suprematism. 1915 paints Black Square. 1915–1916 works with other Suprematist artists in a peasant/artisan co-operative in Skoptsi and Verbovka village. 1916–1917 participates in exhibitions of the Jack of Diamonds group in Moscow together with Altman, Burliuk and Ekster, among others. 1918 paints White on White. 1918 decorates a play, Mystery Bouffe, by Mayakovsky produced by Meyerhold. Interested in aerial photography and aviation, which leads him to abstractions inspired by or derived from aerial landscapes.

1918-19 a member of the Collegium on the Arts of Narkompros, the Commission for the Protection of Monuments and the Museums Commission. 1919-22 teaches at the Vitebsk Practical Art School where he leads the UNOVIS group; 1922-27 at the Leningrad Academy of Arts; 1927-29 at the Kyiv State Art Institute; 1930 at the House of the Arts in Leningrad. 1926 his book The World as Non-Objectivity is published in Munich, only translated into English in 1959; where he outlines his Suprematist theories. 1923 appointed director of Petrograd State Institute of Artistic Culture, which is forced to close in 1926 after a Communist party newspaper called it "a government-supported monastery" rife with "counterrevolutionary sermonizing and artistic debauchery." Summer 1925 meets Eisenstein for the first time, in the village of Nemchinovka, outside Moscow, where Malevich used to spend the summers since the early 1910s. 1925-26 publishes three essays on film in the 'Film Journal ARK', calling for a new language of experimental film to evolve from fine art, as opposed to the traditional sources, photography and theatre. 1927 travels to Warsaw, then to Berlin (29 March-5 June) and Munich for a retrospective which finally brings him international recognition. At his own request, he is introduced by Alexander von Riesen, his escort in Berlin, to Hans Richter. Arranges to leave most of the paintings behind when he returns to the Soviet Union. Stalinist regime turns against forms of abstraction, considering them a type of "bourgeois" art, that could not express social realities; many of his works were confiscated and he is banned from creating and exhibiting similar art. Quietly tolerated by the Communists. Died of cancer in 1935 in Leningrad.






Ot kubizma i futurizma k suprematizmu, 3rd ed., 1916, HTML.
Ot Sezanna do Suprematizma. Kriticheskiy ocherk, 1920, PDF.
Bog ne skinut. Iskusstvo, tserkov’, fabrika, 1922, PDF.
Die gegenstandslose Welt, 1927, PDF (84 mb).
  • "Suprematizm", in X Gosudarstvennaya vystavka. Bespredmetnoe tvorchestvo i suprematizm, Moscow, 1919. (Russian)
    • "Suprematism", in Russian Art of the Avant-Garde: Theory and Criticism, 1902-1934, ed. & trans. John E. Bowlt, New York: Viking Press, 1976, pp 143-145, n304. (English)
  • Die gegenstandslose Welt, Munich: Albert Langen (Bauhausbuch 11), 1927, 104 pp, PDF, JPG; new ed., exp., Mainz: Florian Kupferberg, 1980. Trans. of the Russian version original written in 1923. (German)
    • The Non-Objective World, trans. Howard Dearstyne, Chicago: P. Theobald, 1959, 102 pp. (English)
    • "Suprematism", in Modern Artists on Art, ed. Robert L. Herbert, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1964, pp 92-102; repr. in Modern Artists on Art, 2nd ed., 2000, pp 116-124. Trans. of the second of two essays comprising the 1927 book. (English)
    • "Bezpredmetný svet", trans. P.H., Slovenské pohľady 81:10, 1965, p 83. (Slovak)
    • Nepredmetni svijet, trans. Nenad Popović and Snješka Knežević, Zagreb: Centar za kulturnu djelatnost & Galerija Nova, 1981. Trans. of the 1980 German edition. (Serbo-Croatian)
    • Mutaishō no sekai, trans. Omuka Toshiharu, Tokyo: Chūō Kōron Bijutsu Shuppan, 1992, 170 pp. (Japanese)
    • El Mundo no objetivo, trans. Juan Pablo Larreta Zulategui, Sevilla: Doble J, 2007, 109 pp. (Spanish)
  • Suprematismus: die gegenstandslose Welt, ed. Werner Haftmann, trans. Hans von Riesen, Cologne: DuMont Schauberg, 1962, 286 pp; unchanged repr., 1989. (German)
    • Suprematismo: il mondo della non-oggettività, trans. Franco Rosso, Bari: De Donato, 1969, 271 pp. (Italian)
  • N. Khardzhiev, Kazimir Malevich, Mikhail Matiushin, The Russian Avant-Garde / K istorii russkogo avangarda, Stockholm: Hylaea Prints, 1976, 189 pp. (English)/(Russian)

Articles on film[edit]

  • "On Exposers. Posters" (1925), in The White Rectangle: Writings on Film, ed. Oksana Bulgakowa, Potemkin Press, 2002. (Russian)/(English)
  • "I likuyut liki na ekranakh" [И ликуют лики на экранах; And Images Triumph on the Screen], Киножурнал АРК 10 (1925), pp 8-9. Compares Vertov and Eisenstein. (Russian)
    • "And Visages Are Victorious on the Screen", in The White Rectangle: Writings on Film, ed. Oksana Bulgakowa, Potemkin Press, 2002. (Russian)/(English)
  • "Khudozhnik i kino" [Художник и кино], Киножурнал АРК 2 (1926). (Russian)
    • "The Artist and the Cinema", in The White Rectangle: Writings on Film, ed. Oksana Bulgakowa, Potemkin Press, 2002. (Russian)/(English)
  • "Zhivopis' i problemy arkhitekturnogo priblizheniya novoy klassicheskoy arkhitekturnoy sistemy" [Живопись и проблемы архитектурного приближения новой классической архитектурной системы], 1927, 3 pp. (Russian) First printed as a facsimile with a French translation in C. Czwiklitzer, Lettres autographes des peintures et sculptures, Basle, 1976, pp 487-488. Russian version repr. as "Художественно-научный фильм Живопись и проблемы архитектурного приближения новой классической архитектурной системы", in Malevich, Классический авангард 3, ed. А.С.Шатских, Vitebsk: Сб; ed. Т.В.Котович. Vitebsk: Областной краеведческий музей, 1999. pp 33-40. A script for an "artistic-scientific film", in manuscript. After seeing Hans Richter's film in Berlin in 1927, Malevich hoped to get assistance from him. The script was lost until the late 1950s. In 1970, Richter began to make an animation based on Malevich's script but the project was left unfinished. [8]
    • "Art and the Problems of Architecture. The Emergence of a New Plastic System of Architecture", in The White Rectangle: Writings on Film, ed. Oksana Bulgakowa, Potemkin Press, 2002. (Russian)/(English)
  • "[Painting and Photography]. A Letter to Laszlo Moholy-Nagy" (1927), in The White Rectangle: Writings on Film, ed. Oksana Bulgakowa, Potemkin Press, 2002. (Russian)/(English)
  • "Kino, grammofon, radio i khudozhestvennaya kul'tura" [Кино, граммофон, радио и художественная культура], early 1928. (Russian) Manuscript. First printed in Malevich, vol. IV, ed. Troels Andersen, pp 163-176. [9]
    • "Cinema, Gramophone, Radio, and Artistic Culture", in The White Rectangle: Writings on Film, ed. Oksana Bulgakowa, Potemkin Press, 2002. (Russian)/(English)
  • "Zhivopisnye zakony v problemakh kino" [Живописные законы в проблемах кино], Kino i kul'tura [Кино и культура] 7-8 (1929), pp 22-26. (Russian)
    • "Painterly Laws in the Problems of Cinema", trans. Cathy Young, in Margarita Tupitsyn, Malevich and Film, Yale University Press, 2002, pp 147-159. (English)
    • "Pictorial Laws in Cinematic Problems", in The White Rectangle: Writings on Film, ed. Oksana Bulgakowa, Potemkin Press, 2002. (Russian)/(English)

Collected writings[edit]

  • Essays on Art 1915-1933, 2 vols., ed. Troels Andersen, trans. Xenia Glowacki-Prus and Arnold McMillin, London: Rapp & Whiting, 1969, 259 pp; 2nd ed., New York: G. Wittenborn, New York, 1971. (English)
  • Écrits, ed. Andrei B. Nakov, trans. Andrée Robel-Chicurel, Paris: Champ libre, 1975, 450 pp. (French)
  • The World as Non-Objectivity: Unpublished Writings 1922-25, ed. Troels Andersen, Copenhagen, 1976. (English)
  • The Artist, Infinity, Suprematism: Unpublished Writings 1913-33, ed. Troels Andersen, trans. Xenia Hoffman, Copenhagen: Borgen, 1978, 260 pp. (English)
  • Das weisse Rechteck: Schriften zum Film, ed. Oksana Bulgakowa, Berlin: Potemkin Press, 1997, 154 pp. (German)/(Russian)
    • The White Rectangle: Writings on Film, ed. Oksana Bulgakowa, Berlin and San Francisco: Potemkin Press, 2002, 255 pp. Presents new translations of Malevich's seven texts along with an introduction. TOC, [10]. Review: Minturn (AJ 2004). (English)/(Russian)
  • Suprematické zrcadlo. Texty k bezpředmětnosti, ed. & trans. Tomáš Glanc, Prague: Brody, 1999, 201 pp. (Czech)


Suprematizm. 34 risunka, 1920, PDF.
  • Suprematizm. 34 risunka, Vitebsk: Unovis, 1920. [13] (Russian)
  • Kazimir Malevich 1978-1935, ed. Jeanne D'Andrea, Los Angeles: The Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center, 1990. (English)
  • Malevich. Colección del Museo estatal ruso, San Petersburgo, Madrid: Fundación Juan March, 1992, 108 pp. [14] (Spanish)
  • Suprematism, ed. Matthew Drutt, New York: Guggenheim Museum, 2003, 272 pp. With essays by Matthew Drutt, Nina Gurianova, Jean-Claude Marcadé, Tatiana Mikhienko, Evgenia Petrova, and Vasilii Rakitin. [15]
  • Nas budet troe, Moscow: Sepherot Foundation, 2012.
  • Linda S. Boersma, Bart Rutten, Sophie Tates, Aleksandra Shatskikh, Kazimir Malevich and the Russian Avant-Garde. Featuring Selections from The Khardzhiev and Costakis Collection, Walther König, 2013, 240 pp. [16] [17] [18]
    • Kazimir Malevich en de russische avant-garde, Walther König, 2013, 236 pp. [19] (Dutch)
Catalogues raisonné
  • Malevich: Catalogue Raisonné of the Berlin Exhibition 1927, Including the Collection in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, ed. Troels Andersen, Stedelijk Museum, 1970, 168 pp.
  • Andrei Nakov, Kazimir Malewicz, Catalogue Raisonné, Paris: Adam Biro, 2002. (French)



  • Larissa A. Schadowa, Suche und Experiment: aus der Geschichte der russischen und sowjetischen Kunst zwischen 1910 und 1930, trans. Helmut Barth, Dresden: Verlag der Kunst, 1978, 371 pp. (German)
    • L. Zhadova, Malevich: Suprematism and Revolution in Russian Art, 1910–1930, trans. Alexander Lieven, London: Thames and Hudson, 1982, 371 pp. (English)
  • Charlotte Douglas, Swans of Other Worlds: Kazimir Malevich and The Origins of Abstraction in Russia, Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press, 1980, xii+147 pp. (English)
  • Rainer Crone, David Moss, Kazimir Malevich: The Climax of Disclosure, Reaktion Books, 1991, 237 pp; 2014, 320 pp. [20] [21] [22] (English)
  • Serge Fauchereau, Malévitch, Paris: Ars Mundi, 1992, 127 pp. (French)
    • Malévich, Barcelona: Polígrafa, 1992, 127 pp. (Spanish)
    • Malevich, trans. Alan Swan, New York: Rizzoli, 1993, 127 pp; London: Academy Editions, 1993. (English)
  • Dmitrii Sarabyanov (Дмитрии Сарабьянов), Alexandra Shatskikh (Александра Шатских), Kazimir Malevich: Zhivopis. Teoriya [Казимир Малевич: Живопись. Теория], Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1993, 414 pp. (Russian)
  • Aleksandra Shatskikh (Александра Шатских), Kazimir Malevich [Казимир Малевич], Moscow: Slovo, 1996, 96 pp. (Russian)
  • John Milner, Kazimir Malevich and the Art of Geometry, Yale University Press, 1996, 248 pp. [23] (English)
  • Margarita Tupitsyn, Malevich and Film, Yale University Press, 2002, 192 pp. Catalogue. With essays by Kazimir Malevich and Victor Tupitsyn. TOC, [24]. Reviews: Witkovsky (CAA 2003), Minturn (AJ 2004). (English)
    • Malevich e o cinema, Lisbon: Fundação centro cultural de Belém, 2002, xii+179 pp. (Portuguese)
    • Malevich y el cine, Barcelona: Fundación La Caixa, 2002, xii+175 pp. (Spanish)
  • Charlotte Douglas, Christina Lodder (eds.), Rethinking Malevich: Proceedings of a Conference in Celebration of the 125th Anniversary of Kazimir Malevich’s Birth, London: Pindar Press, 2007, 381 pp. (English)
  • Aleksandra Shatskikh (Александра Шатских), Kazimir Malevich i obshchestvo Supremus [Казимир Малевич и общество Супремус], Moscow: Tri kvadrata, 2009, 464 pp. (Russian)
  • Constructivism in Europe: From Malevich to Kandinsky, Beijing: Art Museum of China, 2012. (English)
  • I.A. Vakar, Kazimir Malevich: The Black Square, Moscow: The State Tretyakov Gallery, 2015. (English)

Book chapters, papers, articles[edit]


See also[edit]