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315 artworks, 32 artists
Suprematism (lat. supremus – the highest) is an avant-garde art movement, which was invented by the Ukrainian-born artist Kazimir Malevich in the mid-1910s. According to the artist, this direction considers the visual phenomena of the objective world meaningless, and the most important is pure feeling. Suprematism became one of the earliest radical styles in abstract art with a large experimental component.
Kazimir Malevich was friends and communicated with many avant-garde poets. They collaborated on various projects – for example, the “Victory over the Sun” futurist opera, which was composed and staged in 1913 together with composer and artist Mikhail Matyushin and poet Alexei Kruchyonykh. Working on this opera, which already bore the signs of Suprematism, Malevich was fascinated by the denial of the language rules and the art of subtle connections between words and letters. The artist searched opportunities to create purely abstract art.
In the summer of 1915, Kazimir Malevich created a masterpiece of painting, which became the starting point for the development of Suprematism. It was the “Black Square” painting. The artwork was a surprise to the artist himself, a kind of mystical phenomenon – they recall that a week after that he could neither eat nor sleep. The “Black Square” was the beginning of Suprematism, a new art movement invented by Malevich and soon picked up by other artists. Soon, like-minded people rallied around Malevich, forming the Supremus creative group, which included Ivan Klyun, Mikhail Menkov, Ivan Puni, Olga Rozanova, Alexei Kruchyonykh, Lyubov Popova, Alexandra Exter and others.
In December 1915, the exhibition “0,10” (zero, ten) took place in Petrograd. The posters announced it as “the last futuristic” exhibition, and it actually became the first display of the paintings created in the style of Suprematism. Malevich created 39 artworks for this exhibition, which he himself hung in the hall, creating a kind of metacomposition, and the icon corner was taken by the “Black Square” instead of an icon. The exhibition was accompanied by the manifesto of Kazimir Malevich "From Cubism and Futurism to Suprematism." “I destroyed the horizon ring and escaped from the circle of things,” the artist wrote. The motives of his paintings included mainly circles, squares and rectangles, which were the building blocks, the primary elements of his painting.
Later, Kazimir Malevich identified three stages in the development of the Suprematism — “black”, “coloured” and “white”. The black phase marked the beginning of the movement and the “zero degree” of painting. The “coloured” phase, also called “dynamic suprematism”, explored the use of colour and shape to create a sensation of movement in space. The culmination was the “White on White” painting (1918), presented by Malevich at the “Non-objective Creation and Suprematism” exhibition in 1919. This painting presented the audience with the art of Suprematism in its purest form — with no form, just an idea.
Malevich’s concepts influenced the further development of abstract painting and found its continuation in constructivism. After exhibitions in Warsaw and Berlin, the ideas of Suprematism began to spread among Western artists. In Russia, Malevich’s theories were condemned by the Stalinist regime. Later, the artist combined Suprematism with figurative painting, creating a number of interesting paintings.