Overalls, trams, pillow-cases and famous faceted glass. Malevich, a tireless singer of objectlessness, had a hand in designing absolutely earthly and tangible things.
Malevich and representational art

When Kazimir Malevich was creating a painting, he did not care whether anybody would have the pleasure of aesthetic kind. When he was embodying his ideas in architecture, he did not care whether "zemlyanits" would dwell comfortably in the houses of the future. His art was intended to organize and discipline one`s life, but not to make it more comfortable, easier or more beautiful.

However, no matter how hard Malevich tried to rise above the needs of "merchants and troublesome hostesses" and to renounce "all commotion of commonness" - objective and earthly things inalterably took over. And Malevich`s space recoveries appeared on the trams in Vitebsk, then on Leningrad porcelain, and even on overalls of the Moscow road-workers, for example.

Sketches for the Verbovka crew


The Verbovka crew (founded in 1900 in the Ukrainian village of the same name by a landlady Natalia Davidova) was famous for its embroidery. The handicrafts of the crew were popular not only among Kyiv intelligentsia. One of the peasants working for Davidova as an embroideress was even awarded the Golden medal of the International exhibition in London. At the beginnig folk motives prevailed in the decorative patterns of Verbovka. But in 1915 in Moscow Davidova and Alexandra Exter, the art director of Verbovka, got acquainted with Malevich. The same year at the exhibition called "Modern decorative art of South of Russia" there were three works executed on the artist`s sketches. The next exhibition in 1917 had already about 400 suprematist embroideries displayed: pillows, tablecloths, fans, screens, towels, bags and pillowcases - all the stuff "being inspired by Malevich". Maybe, if it were not for the revolution, suprematism would become the main fashion trend of that period. It would become the basis of the design of clothing, furniture, interiors, it would make Kazimir Severinovich a millionaire. But those were difficult times: Davidova was soon arrested, then she worked for Coco Chanel for some time. And Malevich kept on glorifying and creating "nonobjective". Anyway, he saw it that way.

The photo below:
- the embroidered suprematist compositions by Kazimir Malevich (the reconstruction executed by the specialists of Institute of decorative applied art, Kyiv). Source: mediaport.ua

- a shot from the lecture "Birth and death of suprematism" by Andrey Sarabyanov. Source: arzamas.academy

Malevich and representational art
Malevich and representational art
Malevich and representational art
Malevich and representational art
Pillow from the sketch
A study is an exercise painting that helps the painter better understand the object he or she paints. It is simple and clear, like sample letters in a school student’s copybook. Rough and ready, not detailed, with every stroke being to the point, a study is a proven method of touching the world and making a catalogue of it. However, in art history, the status of the study is vague and open to interpretation. Despite its auxiliary role, a study is sometimes viewed as something far more significant than the finished piece. Then, within an impressive frame, it is placed on a museum wall.
So, when does a study remain a mere drill, and when can we call it an artwork in its own right, full of life and having artistic value? Continua a leggere
by Kazimir Malevich. Photo by Oliver Sailer. 1917

Vitebsk graffiti


In 1919 Kazimir Malevich left for Vitebsk to teach at Folk artistic school (directed by Mark Chagall). There he founded Unovis - Society of the Founders of New Art. Tradition to decorate the city before holidays had already existed at the school before Malevich joined it. But at the beginning of 20s any celebration in Vitebsk had its distinct suprematist spirit. Armed with paints and brushes, rosy, active and ubiquitous Unovis members went to the streets, and there wasn`t any chance to hide from them. Probably, it didn`t seem that weird to the contemporaries of Malevich living in Vitebsk. However, looking back from the XXI century, this sight seems quite surrealistic. The facades of the houses, public transport, tribunes for Soviet leaders and agitators` speeches - all here reminded the interior of some fashionable New York gallery or a dwelling of the typical modern multimillionaire. Sergey Eisenstein wrote upon his visiting Vitebsk in 20s - "The main streets here are painted white over red bricks. And there are green circles scattered on the white background. Orange squares. Blue rectangles. It is 1920 in Vitebsk. The brush of Kazimir Malevich has painted its brick walls". Eisenstein`s words are confirmed by "The day of workers of the arts" newspaper"- "The car of The Art Union, the agitation tram or carriage would plunge into the city streets, to Polotsk marketplace, or to the Freedom Square, and the surprised people would listen to serious music and the songs about black and red squares..."

This endless suprematist mass irritated Mark Chagall - he considered, and not without grounds, that Unovis reminded a sect as each day went by. However, there was another reason for his vanishing from Vitebsk after Malevich`s arrival: Chagall did not recognize his home town.
Kazimir Malevich. The principle of painting the walls, surfaces or entire rooms, or entire apartments for the system of Suprematism (death to the Wallpaper)
The principle of painting the walls, surfaces or entire rooms, or entire apartments for the system of Suprematism (death to the Wallpaper)
1920, 34×24.8 cm
Malevich and representational art
Wall painting on the sketch
A study is an exercise painting that helps the painter better understand the object he or she paints. It is simple and clear, like sample letters in a school student’s copybook. Rough and ready, not detailed, with every stroke being to the point, a study is a proven method of touching the world and making a catalogue of it. However, in art history, the status of the study is vague and open to interpretation. Despite its auxiliary role, a study is sometimes viewed as something far more significant than the finished piece. Then, within an impressive frame, it is placed on a museum wall.
So, when does a study remain a mere drill, and when can we call it an artwork in its own right, full of life and having artistic value? Continua a leggere
by Malevich, 2014. Vitebsk, the building on the crossroads of Lenin Street and Pravda Street. Photo source: evitebsk.com

Kazimir Malevich (actor Anatoly Bely), the suprematist tram and the suprematist street in Vitebsk in the film "Chagall - Malevich" by Alexander Mitta (2013):



Malevich and representational art
Malevich and representational art
Malevich and representational art
Malevich and representational art
Malevich and representational art

Overalls


Experimenting with color, it happened that Malevich went far beyond his canvas. Well-known art critic Paola Volkova described the way he sat the typists in the rooms of certain color, studying the effect that one or another color had on their productivity, mood and feelings. Malevich prognosed (Elena Petrovna will cough in 20 minutes, Olga Karlovna will print twice quicker and so on) and checked it on practice. During these experiments he came to the curious conclusions. For example, he found out that white color strengthened the pain and offered a turquoise surgical dressing-gown, which is popular now. Then he had an idea of orange waistcoat - the overalls that faultlessly identify road workers today.
Kazimir Malevich. Carpenter
Carpenter
1927, 71×44 cm
Experimentally proved: the red-faced carpenter often sways at walking.

(Kazimir Malevich. Carpenter, 1927)

Leningrad porcelain


In 1922 the management of Leningrad porcelain plant invited Kazimir Malevich and two of his students - Nikolay Suyetin and Ilya Chashnyk - for collaboration. Malevich, who had boastfully declared earlier of attaining "zero of form" in his Black Square, at that time was interested exactly in these voluminous forms. He founded the laboratory of forms at the plant, where he created famous "semicups" and the tea-pot - a prominent example of design`s victory over functionality and comfort. Tableware painting was given to his apostles: Chashnyk and Suyetin have designed quite a bit ideologically wise solutions (and unrestrainedly suprematist at the same time) ink-pots, vases and services titled like "Tractor" or "Bread", and in 1932 Suyetin even became the art director of the Leningrad porcelain plant.

What was Malevich`s attitude to the fact that his haughty all-sufficient subjectlessness served to the Soviet ideology and - yet more frightful - to "fussy housewives"? Probably, he was observing the events with curiosity. When visiting Germany in 1927, Malevich told the Germans that for the sake of "artistic fun," he cut the cup into two. Firstly, his wife sworn at him, but soon she adjusted to drawing a semicup of flour from a sack. So it is hard to say who actually had to settle for a compromise - Malevich or Soviet housewives.

Kazimir Malevich. Piatto di porcellana Suprematista Sovietico con un motivo secondo uno schizzo di K. Malevich
Piatto di porcellana Suprematista Sovietico con un motivo secondo uno schizzo di K. Malevich
1923, 24×24 cm

Architectones


In 1923 Kazimir Malevich began to create architectones and planits. Architectones are gipseous models, reminding the layouts of modern skyscrapers (however, unladen by unimportant details like windows or doors). Planits are the drafts of the houses, where, according to Malevich`s idea, would or, rather, should live "zemlyanits", people of the future. If atchitectones were absolutely pointless compositions that were designed as the universal principle for "the unified system of world architecture", then in his planits Malevich condescended to functional details like floors, facades, staircases. "Zemlyanit can stay anywhere on top and inside the house... Each of the floors is undersized, it is possible to walk and go down it as the stairs", he described the drafts. It, certainly, does not mean that Malevich was preoccupied with "zemlyanits` comfort. As usual, he just organized the space and it only remained for "zemlyanit" to adopt. "If a raven makes a nest on a tree or a hoopoe nests in a hollow, then it does not mean that this tree has grown for this aim, but the hoopoe will think of this tree in terms of a certain practical task", Malevich explained.

Anyway, architectons and planits, though adjusted for alimentary necessities of "zemlyanits", had the most powerful influence on modern architecture.


Malevich and representational art
Malevich and representational art
1.1. Zaha Hadid. Malevich`s techtonic, 1977. This was a diploma project by Zaha Hadid: inspired by Malevich, a famous architect designed the hotel-bridge over the Thames.
1.2. Finally, "Malevich`s techtonic" decorated the wall of Zaha Hadid`s house. Photo: newyorker.com

Suprematist fashion


"Harmonizing architectural forms in any style of industrial architecture will demand changes in existing furniture, tableware, clothes", Malevich said and outlined the sketches of suprematist printed cottons and dresses. Sweaters and scarfs with suprematist patterns knitted by Malevich`s mother warmed the souls of progressive young people.


However, Malevich might not have designed separate fashion sketches, as till today the designers draw inspiration straight from his canvases. Here are few examples from the show by Italian designer Gabriele Colangelo for spring-summer 2013. Notice that the fashion designer adopts not only the color technique, but also a rounded shoulder line from Malevich. (Photo: vogue.com)



Malevich and representational art
Malevich and representational art
Malevich and representational art
Malevich and representational art
Malevich and representational art
Malevich and representational art


It would not be a surprise to find sheets with the prints designed by Malevich in modern Ikea:



Malevich and representational art
In 1908, even before the invention of Suprematism, Malevich designed the bottle for eau-de-cologne "North" and tere was nothing ideological about it, as Malevich simply needed money, and that was the right commission then. This perfume had been produced in this very bottle from 1911 to the mid 90s: for the period of 80 years, it was that simple to complete one`s look with Malevich`s spirit.

Faceted glass


There is a legend that a famous faceted glass (the kind that was used in the USSR) was invented by Kazimir Malevich. He designed it while the imprisonment in "The crosses" on a charge of espionage. The ordinary thin glass burned hands.Malevich invented the faceted glass, and upon his discharge allegedly shared this insight to the sculptor Vera Mukhina (the other popular legend insists on her authorship). If so, then this was very far-sighted and effective. This seemingly simple invention for rather long period helped "zemlyanyts" to communicate with space . It was more reliable, than his paintings, philosophical works and suprematist manifests all together.
Kazimir Malevich. Grinder
Grinder
1912, 79.5×79.5 cm
This is how an ordinary grinder looks like if you look through the faceted glass.

(Kazimir Malevich. Grinder, 1912)

Written by Andrew Zimoglyadov