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Kasimir Malevich

Kasimir Malevich

(1879 - 1935)
Born: Kiev, Russia
Style: Modernism
Famous Works:
  • Living in a Big Hotel (1914)
  • Black Square (1916)
  • Suprematist Composition: White on White (1917-18)
Russian painter Kasimir Malevich was the chief of Suprematism, the abstract movement of Russia in the early part of the twentieth-century. He was born near Kiev, but Malevich's family moved often during his childhood and he had no access to the world of professional art. He was, however, exposed to folk art, and diplayed a propensity for creative expression at an early age. Malevich eventually had the opportunity to formally study art, attending the Kiev School of Art from 1895 to 1896. In 1904 he moved to Moscow to study at the School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture. Malevich participated in several group exhibitions during his time in Moscow, submitting work that was influenced by lubok, a form of Russian folk art based largely on simple graphic representations of popular historical and religious stories. Among the Russian contemporary artists, Lubok would make way for Cubism after a landmark exhibition of Aristarkh Lentulov's paintings in 1913. Although an adept cubist, Malevich's work within the style was short lived, and by 1915 he was laying the groundwork for Suprematism. Geometrical shapes, while simple in form, became instrumental in Malevich's work. This new style was called Suprematism because of its absolute confidence in abstraction. At the height of this work was Suprematist Composition: White on White, completed in 1918. The painting shows a white square resting on a diagonal on a white plane. This purest of abstraction eventually made Malevich stop abstract painting, as he felt he could no longer innovate. Instead he turned to a life of teaching and writing. He joined Marc Chagall in teaching in Vitebsk, and in the future years taught all over Russia and Poland.
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