Blog Post #2 Russian Suprematism/Malevich

Annette Wagenhofer

February 18, 2015

Typography 2

Blog Post #2 Russian Suprematism/Malevich


Kazimir Malevich was a Russian painter in the early 20th Century. Born in 1879. He was of Polish descent. Malevich’s family moved around a lot, he spent most of his younger years in the villages of the Ukraine.  At the age of twelve he became involved with peasant style embroidery and paint. He was the pioneer of geometric abstract art and the originator of the suprematist movement. In his early twenties he moved to Moscow. There he would study painting, sculpture and architecture.

Malevich described himself as panting in a “Cubo-Futuristic” style in 1912. As all the main Russian avant-garde artists of this time, he absorbed the cubist principles and used them in his own works. By 1915 Malevich would lay the foundations for what we know as Suprematism. He published his manifesto from Cubism to Suprematism. Famous works include his Black Square from 1915 and White On White from 1918.

Malevich became interested in aerial photography and aviation. This would lead him to abstractions. Malevich defined the additional element as the quality of any new visual environment bringing a change in perception.

Malevich was a member of the Collegium on the Arts of Narkompros, the commission for the protection of monuments and the museums commission. He taught at many Art Schools and Institutions. By 1923 he was appointed director of Petrograd State Institute of Artistic Culture. The school was closed in 1926 after a communist party called it a government supported monastery. By this time the Soviet state was promoting a politically style of art called Socialist Realism.

By 1927 Malevich traveled to Warsaw it was here that he held his first foreign exhibit. He would then travel to Berlin and Munich, which finally bought Malevich international recognition. He left behind most of his paintings when he returned to the Soviet Union. During the time when the Stalinist regime turned against forms of abstraction, his works were confiscated and banned from creating similar art.

Critics felt his art as a negation of everything good and pure. He responded that art can advance and develop stating “art does not need us, and it never did”. Malevich died in Leningrad in 1935.


Russian Suprematism was a Russian abstract art movement. It was pioneered and founded by Kasimer Malevich around 1915. Russian Suprematism concerned itself with using elementary geometric forms such as squares and circles. Suprematism owed something to styles of earlier European avant-garde art. However, Malevich intended to take it further. Malevich wanted to develop a type of non-objective art which would allow him to dismiss all and any references to the natural world and put primary focus on art in its pure form. He would do this by creating many rigorously abstract paintings using fundamental geometric shapes such as squares, rectangles, circles, crosses and triangles. He used a limited range of colors. He staged the development of suprematism in three stages: black, colored then white.


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