Kazimir Malevich

Kazimir Malevich

SELF PORTRAIT. 1910. Paper, gouache. 27 x 26.8 cm. The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Kazimir Malevich
Among the pleiad of the greatest masters of the 20th century, we will meet the names of our compatriots – Kazimir Malevich, Vasily Kandinsky, Marc Chagall. The last two who left for Europe forever in the early 1920s were destined to live a long and full-blooded life, to see their work in the best museums in the world, to recognize the widely deserved recognition. At home Casimir Malevich was ousted from reality and history long before real care. Oblivion lasted more than half a century; in Russia, which he never left, the artist “returned” posthumously, on the crest of a crushing world glory. Returned the creator, sharply disturbing the perception of domestic audiences.

The black square, its legendary work, is still capable of provoking a passionate, nervous attitude with its seeming artlessness, a rejection of the generally accepted notions of fine art. And sixty years after his death, Malevich has ardent opponents and enemies who argue with him as a contemporary – what can be more convincing evidence of the indomitable energy of his work?
But not only this unexplored life is remarkably great art of a great man. Occupying the minds of a huge international team of scientists, having engendered a specific discipline “Malevich studies,” the impressive legacy of the Russian master is far from being comprehended, not fully explored. His paintings and drawings, his architects and projects, his theatrical works and porcelain have already entered the golden fund of world culture – next is the comprehension of original philosophical theories left by the artist.
A unique feature of the “science of Malevich” is the fact that the study of his creative path constantly gives unexpected surprises to the researchers: it is difficult to get rid of the impression that the biography of an outstanding cultural hero is going through formation before our very eyes and with our participation, that it is still open, incomplete process.
CHILDHOOD, ADOLESCENCE AND YOUTH
Traditional and quite understandable is the interest in where, when and how the future artist was wedded, what impulses for his impulses aroused, what was the environment and what was the role of this environment in finding the calling. Satisfaction of such inquisitiveness in the case of Malevich is greatly facilitated by the fact that he himself with pleasure returned to children’s impressions and even considered it necessary to talk about them in one of the theoretical treatises. In addition, shortly before the fatal illness, he, at the insistence of Nikolai Ivanovich Khardzhiev, set to work on a consistent account of his life and managed to finish it in the middle of the 1910s.
The factual outline of the artist’s early years was as follows: Kazimir Severinovich Malevich was born on February 11 (23), 1878, in a house on the outskirts of a provincial Kiev. His father, Severin Antonovich Malevich (1845 – 1902), was the manager of the sugar factory of the famous Ukrainian industrialist Tereshchenko. Both father and mother, Ludwiga Alexandrovna (1858 – 1942), by origin were Poles. Four Malevichs had fourteen children, but only nine of them survived to a mature
age. Casimir was the first-born; Besides him, there were four more sons in the family (Anton, Boleslav, Bronislav, Mechislav) and four daughters (Maria, Vanda, Severina, Victoria).
Father’s service required frequent displacements, and the future artist spent his childhood in Ukrainian villages, surrounded by beet fields. And after fifty years, Malevich with excitement recalled images of a fertile, low-Russian nature, picturesque pictures of peasant labor. Beet-sugar plantations were large. To process these plantations, many workers, mostly peasants, were required.
On the plantations worked peasants, from small to large, almost all summer and autumn, and I, the future artist, admired the fields and the “colored” workers, who smacked or broke beets.
Platoons of girls in colored clothes moved in rows all over the field. It was a war. The troops in colored dresses fought with weeds, releasing the beets from overgrowing with unnecessary plants. … The beet plantations stretched endlessly, then merging in the distant horizon, then sinking into small fields or climbing hills, including villages and villages in their green fields, covered with the monotonous texture of the leaves.

Kazimir Malevich

TWO PEASANTS AT THE FIELD OF FIELDS. 1928-1932. Canvas, oil. 53 x 70 centimeters

KURSK YOUTH
In 1896, the Malevich family settled in Kursk; with this provincial city the future artist has been closely associated for more than ten years.
In Kursk, he entered his third decade, the age of bodily heyday and maturity. Around the year 1899, the Malevich brothers marry the sisters of Zgleits, the daughters of the Kursk healer: Casimir on Kazimir, Mechislav on Maria. Kazimira Ivanovna Zgleits (1883? –
1942), following in the footsteps of his father, became a paramedic; Casimir and Kazimira had a son Anatoly (1901 – 1915) and daughter Galina (1905 – 1973).
A solid family man, Malevich needed money. He had to earn a living in the Department of the Kursk-Moscow Railway for a living.
Among local officials there were people who were closely acquainted with professional painting, and some even tried to study in youth in art institutions. By his closest Kursk friend Malevich called the unknown painter-painter Lev Kvachevsky, a short-time pupil of the Academy of Arts – he, naturally, was more advanced in painting than Casimir, and otherwise they were very similar (it should be noted that Malevich was fully endowed with the fine gift of friendship, in this we still have to be convinced).
Together with like-minded people, Malevich managed to organize an artistic circle in Kursk. The authorities allowed amateur officials to assemble after service in one of the rooms, where plaster castings were put in a collection purchased in Moscow. Imitating these schools, enthusiasts painted with gypsum, but their favorite occupation was still work with nature. Malevich clearly led: “I must say that the wives of my friends hated me because I took my husbands in all my spare time for sketches: therefore they were never at home.”
Ordinary life of the turn of the century is almost inevitably perceived through the prism of Chekhov – and in very different descriptions of Malevich’s poetry, the signs of the provincial routine life-being, familiar to immortal plays and stories, are vividly felt. And the artist himself in his Kursk decade quite, it seemed, corresponded to the image of a small official, burdened by a large family, dissatisfied with his wingless life and tortured by incomprehensible impulses, polished by Russian literature. (At the end of this century, it is well known how this “little man” changed the artistic vision of the world, such an incredible hero could not afford realistic literature, but life on it and life to be more cunning than any novelist.)

Kazimir Malevich

the red cavalry. 1928-1932. Canvas, oil. 91 x 32 cm. The State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

And completely in Chekhov sounded the imperious refrain “to Moscow, to Moscow”, which arose in the life of Malevich at the very beginning of the century. The all-consuming passion for paint and paint played, in the end, his fateful role, and the Kursk official, being a man of integrity, decided to take drastic changes: “… I began to worry about Moscow, but there was no money, and the whole riddle was in Moscow, nature was everywhere, and how to write it was in Moscow, where well-known artists also lived …. I summed up the monetary base and according to my calculations I should have had enough for the whole academic year, in the spring I will come to Kursk and I will arrive at the work. Food. It was in 1904 “.
Malevich and Kliun
At Rerberg’s school, Malevich met with Ivan Vasilyevich Klyunkov (1873 -1943), known in the history of Russian art under the pseudonym Klyun. In the first Moscow years, he was the key figure for the future of the avant-garde.
The rapprochement between the two Rerberg pupils occurred at first on the basis of a certain biographical parallelism. Klyun was born in the Vladimir province to a peasant family. When he was eight years old, his father took a place at a sugar factory in the village of Kamenka in Ukraine, where he went with all the household members; in 1885 the family moved to Kiev. At the age of 19 Klyun entered the sugar factory in the Voronezh province, but a few months later he joined the family of his uncle, an officer who served in Poland. His artistic education began in the Warsaw School of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts. In 1894, Clun finally settled in Moscow with his parents, enlisted in the state presence (he was an official until the revolution), in 1903 he began to study at Rerberg and continued his studies until 1908.
Acquaintance soon passed into close communication, so close that Malevich, moving the family to Moscow, settled in the house of Juno. The youngest daughter of Ivan Vasilyevich, Seraphim, recalled that Malevichi was not paid for the room, moreover, his father often had to lend their tenants a small fraction of the money for food free of charge. Lack of money is a constant background of the artist’s daily existence; relative prosperity lasted no more than two or three years in the mid-1920s. For all his life, Malevich has not received a part of the amount, which is now estimated by one of his drawings (tens of thousands of dollars), not to mention the painting, worth millions. Unfortunately for Malevich, he continued the romantic tradition
XIX century – “an unrecognized genius who died in poverty.” This, of course, was affected by “chronological provincialism” of Russia – in the 20th century the situation changed in the rest of the world: Modigliani, who had just left early, barely lived to see the material dimension of glory, and other great brethren – Matisse, Picasso, Chagall – were not only famous, but also fabulously rich.

Kazimir Malevich

priestess. 1928-1932. Plywood, oil. 72,4 x 72 cm. The State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

Exploring and comparing the work of Malevich and Klyun in the second half of the 1900s, one can not fail to see their generality and we can not fail to recognize the leading role of Klyun in the first years of friendship. Yes it is not surprising: Ivan Vasilievich was five years older, in the Moscow artistic environment was his own, participated in solid exhibitions. The work of Klyun with their the allegorical overtones and the clearly expressed style of modernity showed an all-consuming infatuation with the blueorphic element, dominated by wearisome moods, twilight conditions, craving for the unspeakable, inexpressible, the desire for decorative musicality of compositions.
Similar features were worn by many works of Malevich those years. Especially fully expressed in the cycle, which received the name Sketches of fresco painting (1907, RM). Symbolist paintings by Pavel Kuznetsov, Peter Utkin, the brothers Milioti in nature approached the picturesque panel, wall paintings, tapestries, that is, they strove for a monumental and decorative embodiment. Sketches of fresco painting fully fit in this trend. They are impressed by the general golden glow of color, skillfully achieved with the help of “iconic” technique, tempera painting; However, in the stylistic system – symmetry, applicability, rhythmicity, decorativeness – the linear-ornamental pretentiousness inherent in the modern art is somewhat annoying. A lot of sneers in the mosaic stories: a crowd of skinny, naked, righteous people with nimbuses are silly-ridiculous before the parody, but the artist did not notice it at all. The future of the severe supremacist portends only the format of these works – they all gravitate to the right square (square format, as is known, is one of the most difficult for painters).
Religious subjects are joined by Malevich’s gouache the Shroud (1908, TG) – a spectacular pattern brings it together with the works of folk masters.
The idea of “fresco sketches” was to a great extent inspired by Klyun, a great connoisseur and connoisseur of ancient Russian architecture and iconography; it should be noted, however, that the impressions of the creativity and personality of the friend were translated by Malevich in a purely individual way, for Ivan Vasilievich himself had no religious plots due, perhaps, to a certain orthodoxy; he was more attracted to romantic and mystical themes.
PETERSBURG 1913

This year, the last peaceful year of old Russia, began for the artist as an official entry into the “Union of Youth”. On January 3, Malevich was admitted to the Commonwealth with Alexei Morgunov, Vladimir Tatlin and other Muscovites.
“Union of Youth” in 1913 greatly expanded. In addition to including a large number of new members, he merged with the Cubo-Futurist group of poets “Gilea” – the Vladimir Mayakovsky, Velimir Khlebnikov, Alexei Kruchenykh, the brothers David and Nikolai Burliuk, Elena Guro, Vasily Kamensky, Benedikt Livshits. The short association of painters and writers, which disintegrated at the end of the same year of 1913, was crowned with the joint publication of the third collection of the Union of Youth and the remarkable productions of the “world’s first Futurist Theater.”
Among the friendships of Malevich, one of the main places belonged to a musician, painter, composer, publisher, art theorist, sculptor, teacher Mikhail Vasilyevich Matyushin (18b 1 – 1934). Their acquaintance took place in 1912, and the year 1913 brought the closest cooperation and strengthening of friendship that lasted until the end of both lives (Matyushin died from the same terrible disease – cancer,
⦁ and Malevich, six months before his colleague).
Matyushin’s first profession in art was music – until 1913 he served as a violinist in the St. Petersburg Court Orchestra; his theoretical research in the field of composing resulted in the original theory of quarter-music. Painting Matyushin engaged in adulthood, in 1898-1906 he studied in a private studio of Ian Tsionglinsky. Here he met his future wife, artist and poetess Elena Guro (1877 – 1913).
In the fall of 1918, the pedagogical work of Malevich began, and later played a very important role in his theoretical work. He was a master in one of the classes of the Petrograd Free Workshops, and at the end of 1918 he moved to Moscow. In the Moscow Free State Studios, the reformist painter invited himself to study “metalworkers and textile workers” – the founder of Suprematism began to recognize the outstanding style-building abilities of his offspring.
Representatives of nascent Constructivism, emerging from the spatial-functional developments of Tatlin – his famous counter-reliefs – all with great passion opposed themselves to Suprematism. This confrontation took shape in an open conflict at the X State Exhibition, which took place in April 1919 in Moscow. Disengagement affected already in the name – at the request of the participants it was called Non-Object Art and Suprematism. The camp of the non-subject, headed by Alexander Rodchenko (1891-1956), programmatically contrasted his abstract compositions with the suprematism of Malevich, Klyun, Menkov. In contrast to Malevich’s metaphysical canvases “white on white,” Rodchenko exhibited paintings called Black on Black, claiming the sophistication of “pictorial flesh” with his sophisticated textural elaboration.
In July 1919, Malevich wrote his first great theoretical work on the new systems in art. The desire to publish it and the growing worldly difficulties – the artist’s wife was waiting for the child, the family lived near Moscow in a cold unheated house – forced him to accept the invitation to move to the province. In the provincial city of Vitebsk from the beginning of 1919 the National Art School was organized, organized and directed by Mark Chagall (1887 – 1985). Teacher of the Vitebsk school, architect and graphic designer Lazar Lisitsky (1890 – 1941), the future famous designer, during a business trip to Moscow convinced Malevich of the necessity and benefit of moving. Chagall fully supported Lisitsky’s initiative and assigned the newcomer to the workshop a workshop in the school.
Malevich left Moscow at the turn of October and November, without waiting for the opening of his first solo exhibition: it took place in December 1919 – January 1920 and was called, as already mentioned, Kazimir Malevich, his path from impressionism to Suprematism. The author illustrated the concept of the “end of painting” with an exposition: the consistent development from impressionism through cubism led the painting to the three stages of Suprematism, and the exhibition ended with empty canvases, from which the color and form left physically (in the 19b0s minimalist painters exhibiting empty canvases , considered themselves the most radical painters in the world and the pioneers of an unprecedented artistic space …).

With the move to Vitebsk for Malevich a new stage has begun: two and a half years spent in the province, first of all, were given to the theoretical interpretation of their discoveries in painting. The artist wrote a huge number of texts, considering philosophical Suprematism as “the mode of the new life of all mankind”. Comprehension of the meaning of the universe, which was revealed to him through the “crevice of painting”, was crowned with a vast treatise Suprematism. The world as non-objectivity. Finished in February 1922 in Vitebsk, he first saw the light in 1962 in a German translation (reissued twice more, in 1980 and 1989) and is waiting for his publication in Russian.
In May 1923, at the Exhibition of paintings of Petrograd artists of all directions, 1918-1923 Unovis appeared for the last time. In the halls of the Academy of Arts was shown a “collective exhibit” – the new art in accordance with the guidelines for anonymous collective art exhibited their work under a common author’s name, including the canvasses of the initiator himself. Exposition Unovis, developing “from Cubism to Suprematism,” duplicated the exhibition concept of Malevich in 1919, ending with empty canvases. They were called the Suprematist Mirror, embodying the main philosophical conclusion of Suprematism. Laconic verbal expression, he found in the last manifesto of Malevich under the same title, published in the newspaper Life of Art for the opening of the exhibition. All the essences of the world, marked by such diverse concepts as “God”, “soul”, “technique”, “religion”, “work”, “worldview”, “time”, “space” (the series could go on forever) here they were equalized with a huge Zero – Nothing contained Everything, and vice versa. Mystically irrational essence of the worldview of Malevich, who came to his philosophical absolute, Nothing, was in stark contrast to the optimistic materialism of the “only true theory”, Marxism-Leninism, establishing its dominance in the country, not embarrassed by the means.
Images of the plans in 1924 were shown at the XVI Biennale in Venice. Participation in the prestigious exhibition of international art was fundamental for the Malevich, long sought to establish in Europe their innovations. He always returned to the main pseudo-figures of Suprematism in drawings and graphics, but it seems that it was for Venice that for the first time new pictorial canvases were created: the monumental Black Square, the Black Cross, the Black Circle (all in the Russian Museum), made around 1923 by his students Suetin , Yudin, Anna Leporskaya, were then authorized by Malevich.

Kazimir Malevich

on the boulevard. The end of the 1920’s. Canvas, oil. 55 x 66 cm State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

Architects in the form of three-dimensional models, which appeared in the mid-1920s, embodied the concepts of a new architecture that went back to the Suprematist painting and built on the spatial dynamics of elementary geometric volumes. They, in the opinion of the creator, could serve as real projects of the “Suprematist Order”, a new great style capable of covering all spheres of the spiritual and material life of mankind, from architecture to cinematography. In these years among the ginhuk people there arose the slogan “Suprematism – New Classicism”. Suprematism, having reached the real volumes of architects, continued to develop common utopian concepts of the Russian avant-garde in other social conditions and had a great influence on the formation of new spatial ideas in domestic and world design and architecture.

LATE IMPRESSIONISM AND REALISTIC PORTRAITS
After 1927 in the work book of Malevich more and more records were recorded about duty stations. From Ginhuk, the artist, along with his co-workers, was transferred to the State Institute of Art History, but two years later the Institute’s art critics succeeded in liquidating his department. The situation of his experimental laboratory in the Russian Museum was also fragile. Therefore, the former director of the research institution eagerly responded to the invitation of the Kiev Art Institute and from 1929 went there to teach, spending every month two weeks in Kiev.
Ukrainian avant-gardists highly honored the former countryman – in the Kharkov journal New Generation, from April 1928 a series of articles was published, based on the historical and theoretical work of Malevich Isology. In Ukraine, it continued to be printed even when all Moscow and Leningrad publications were closed to the artist – his last appearance in the Moscow press was dated 1929, the notorious year of the “Great Break”.
At the same time, Malevich still remained one of the largest figures in the artistic life, and this could not be ignored.
Beginning his professional activities, the artist referred, as already said, to 1898, – in 1928 his thirty-year creative jubilee was performed. The Tretyakov Gallery began to complete a personal exhibition: for Malevich, as for any Russian artist, this was an extremely important event, a kind of lifetime canonization. Anticipating the final nature of the exhibition, he carefully prepared for it, trying to present his biography in exact accordance with his own ideas.

Parallels between the ideological actions of communist and fascist leaders are no longer a novelty, but in some cases the USSR even turned out to be ahead: the exhibition The art of the era of imperialism, opened in the Russian Museum, branded the entire Russian avant-garde as the art of a decaying bourgeoisie. It was in 1932, and before the action of Goebbels with the company, until the Berlin exhibition of “degenerate art” there was still quite a lot of time.
In the same year of 1932, the fifteenth anniversary of Soviet power took place, to which the huge exposition of the Artists of the RSFSR for a period of 15 years was prepared for a long time. This was the largest of all the Soviet jubilee exhibitions held so far; it was decided to first show it in the “cradle of the revolution”, and then in the capital.
In Leningrad, Malevich was given a lot of space: the photographs show a full and capacious personal exhibition (it was she who determined the upper frame of post-suprematism, since all his most important canvases were represented on it).
The jubilee year was especially significant – it was the year of the organizational design of artistic unanimity, because a single Union of Soviet artists came to replace groups and societies, and socialist realism was the only true direction in Soviet art.
Exposition Artists of the RSFSR for the XV years, opened in Moscow in a year, has radically changed. Malevich and other heroes of the Russian avant-garde were given dark concoctions in the Historical Museum, and the Black Square was subjected to destructive criticism. Now officially the work of the great Suprematist was declared an alien and harmful phenomenon in Soviet art.

Kazimir Malevich

IMPROVED PORTRAIT OF THE BUILDER. (PORTRAIT OF IVAN VASILYEVICH KLUN). 1913. Oil on canvas. 112 x 70 cm. The State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

The portrait conception of the late Malevich was most fully expressed in the Self-portrait; It is noteworthy that on the back of the author the second name was put – “Artist”.
“The artist reveals the world and shows it to man … it is necessary to be an artist among things, for through him a new vision is opened, a new symmetry of nature, he finds (as it is customary to call) beauty …” – proclaimed Malevich in the solemn lines of his ode Artist, written in the early 1920’s. The sensation of this spiritual mission is penetrated by the appearance of the Master on a self-portrait. The figure, occupying almost the whole field of the picture, is full of enormous inner strength. – The artist retains his dignity of a genius personality and is not subject to the unreasonable forces of historical time that fell on his earthly share. A pathetic self-portrait with an accentuated cultivation of the Renaissance tradition, placing in the center of the universe of man, was the completion of the life and creative path of the great artist.
An incurable disease was opened in the autumn of 1933. Sensing an untimely departure, Malevich bequeathed to bury himself near Nemchinovka near an oak tree, under which he loved to rest.
In May 1935, along Nevsky Prospekt (then 25 October Prospekt), a funeral procession proceeded: an overpriced sarcophagus was mounted on the open platform of a truck with a Black square on the hood. The procession was directed to the Moscow railway station; the coffin with the body was transported to Moscow, and after the cremation the urn with the ashes were buried on the field under the oak tree.
A monument was erected over the burial site, designed by Nikolai Suetin,
– a cube with a black square. During the war the grave of Kazimir Malevich was lost. The memorial sign was restored at the edge of the forest bordering the field in 1988.

Kazimir Malevich