SuprematismSuprematism is a form of abstract art from the early twentieth century; the heyday of this movement was from about 1915 to 1930.
History and Background
This style within painting was founded by Russian painter Kazimir Malevich, who formulated its principles in 1915. Suprematism can be seen in contrast to constructivism. Whereas constructivists see that all of life is controlled by technology, suprematists believe that feeling brings technology into being.
Suprematism works primarily with geometric figures such as the square, circle and rectangle. Within a completely abstract art, Malevich advocated the supremacy of geometric forms. The representation of both objects and ideas was completely rejected. Malevich's views are most radically expressed in his painting Black Square - a black square on a white background.
Malevich's suprematism was largely based on the work of the Russian mathematician Lobachevsky. From these conceptions, each painting is a "frozen" image of eternal movement through an ideal space of n dimensions, no up, no down, no right and no left.
Malevich wrote a theory of art that formed the basis of part of his oeuvre, which he called "suprematism" (from supremacy, or "supremacy"). His first suprematist painting dates from 1913. His 1915 Black Square on White Background became the "icon" of suprematism and was hung in the "red corner" at the first exhibition, the special place in the house where icons are placed in Russia. Malevich stated, "The square plane indicates the beginning of suprematism, of a new colorful realism as a kind of abstract creation."
This is art in which there is no figuration. The idiom is based on geometric forms, pure colors plus white and black. For Malevich, art was connected with the spiritual. According to his view, art should have no political, utilitarian or social goals or pretensions. Art was supposed to be autonomous. This view distinguished him from the constructivists. There were several followers, including Lyubov Popova.
Cubism and Futurism influenced Suprematism. By the end of the 1920s, suprematism's heyday was over. Some adherents joined the constructivists. By 1917, suprematism was very much in the minds of other artists. They also used it for applied art. The artists united in a number of Unovis groups in the early 1920s. Although the movement had little resonance in Russia and only a limited number of imitators, it did have a great influence on Wassily Kandinsky and the painters of the Bauhaus and De Stijl. In striving to reduce the formal language of visual art to its essence, the movement was ahead of minimal art.
The October Revolution of 1917 was supported by many artists. The new regime was initially charmed by abstract and experimental art. For a time, abstract art had special value to the Soviet government. There was even a subsidy for it. But from 1924, when Stalinism came into force, the Soviet state began to severely curtail artistic freedom. In Europe, on the other hand, the manifesto became a source of inspiration for De Stijl, European constructivism, the Bauhaus and minimal art. After the Russian Revolution, many modern artists who had been unable to work under the Tsar's regime believed that their time had finally come. However, the communist system of government soon banned any art form that did not serve the state.
The paintings show great contrasts such as:
|Regular use of color||Irregular use of color|
|Singular use of color||Composed use of color|
Suprematist artists maily originate from Russia.
For a more descriptive overview; see our dedicated page on Suprematist Artists.
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