Kazimir Malevich

Kasimir Severinovich Malevich or Kazimir Malewich, born on 11 February 1879 (23 February 1879 in the Gregorian calendar) in Kiev (Russian Empire), of Polish parents, and died on 15 May 1935 in Leningrad, aged 56, of cancer3, was one of the first abstract artists of the 20th century. He was a painter, draughtsman, sculptor and theorist, and was the creator of an artistic movement he called "Suprematism".

Kazimir Malevich
Kazimir Malevich
Malevich, Kliun and Aleksei Morgunov (1914).
Malevich, Kliun and Aleksei Morgunov (1914).


Kasimir Malevich was born in Kiev, Ukraine, in the Catholic Kiev-Vasilkovskaja maternity hospital of St. Alexander. His father, Severin Antonovich Malevich (1845-1902), was the director of one of the industrial sugar (beet) refineries of the Russian businessman Nicholas Terechtchenko. His mother, A. Ludwig (1858-1942), was a housewife. Kasimir Malevich was the eldest of 14 children, of whom were daughters who survived to adulthood.

From 1896 to 1898, he studied at the college in Parhomovka (Imperial Russia).

From 1898 to 1904, the young Kasimir lived in Kursk (Russia), then moved to Moscow in 1904, after the death of his father, and worked as an industrial designer for the railways.

In 1899 he married Kazimiera Zglejc (or, retranscribed from Russian: Kasimira Ivanovna Zgleits) (1883[ref. needed]-1942), with whom he had two children, Anatolii (1902) and Galina (1909).

After training as a technical draughtsman in Moscow in 1902-1904, and after attending the Kiev School of Painting5 from 1895 to 1896 in the class of the painter Nikolay Pymonenko, at the age of sixteen Malevich developed his plastic work as a self-taught artist, which he developed over the course of his life in a dozen different styles: Realism, Impressionism, Symbolism, Cézanne, Fauvism, Neo-Primitivism, Cubo-Futurism, Alogic Cubism, Suprematism, and Supra-Naturalism.

In 1915, after the "Tramway V Exhibition" in March, he presented a group of 39 works at the "0.10 Exhibition", held in Petrograd from 19 December 1915 to 19 January 1916, which he called "Suprematisms", including Quadrangle, known as Black Square on a White Background, which Malevich later established as the emblematic work of Suprematism.

With the Revolution of 1917, he was elected deputy to the Moscow Soviet7. Malevich accepted institutional functions as a teacher at the Moscow Academy, then at the Vitebsk Art School, invited by Marc Chagall, then in Petrograd as a researcher. He also fought for democratisation.

In 1918, he painted White Square on a White Background, which is considered the first monochrome in contemporary painting.

In 1927, Malevich went on a trip to Germany, where he left 70 paintings and a manuscript, Suprematism or the Objectless World, republished by the Bauhaus (it had originally been published in 1915). During the war, some fifteen of his paintings disappeared and were never found; some are in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and another in the MoMA in New York.

A prolific artist, he never stopped painting throughout his life.

In 1929, the Soviet authorities stigmatized him for his "subjectivism" and called him a "philosophical dreamer". During the 1930s, as the needs of Soviet power in the field of art changed, Malevich was constantly attacked by the press and lost his official position - he was even imprisoned and tortured. Although the authorities gave him an official funeral in 1935, the condemnation of his work and the Suprematist movement was accompanied by decades of oblivion.

Recognition of the artist came in the 1970s. Since then, numerous retrospectives around the world have established Malevich as one of the masters of abstract art.


In 1915, Malevich painted three elements that he would later include among the founding elements of Suprematism: the Black Square, the Black Cross and the Black Circle.

Using simple geometric and single-coloured forms, arranged on the canvas or erected in reality (architectons), Suprematism shows the infinite character of space and the relationship of attraction and rejection of forms.

For Malevich, art is a process in which sensation (i.e. the artist's relationship to the world) is concretised in a work of art, thanks to a formative module alien to the support, the "additional element", which structures the pictorial mass or the materials. He introduced the concept of the additional element in his writings of the 1920s, as well as in his teaching.

10 Suprematism, as it is called, poses itself as a superior model of the artistic purpose of pure art, dominating and shaping applied art in its wake.

It was over the conception of the relationship of pure art to applied art that Malevich came into conflict with the Constructivists.


From 1907 to 1935, he participated in 35 avant-garde exhibitions in the Russian Empire, the USSR and abroad. Malevich was an active member of the Ukrainian and Polish artistic avant-garde and rubbed shoulders with Kandinsky, Chagall, Matiushin, El Lissitzky and Rodchenko.

In parallel with his visual work, Malevich produced theoretical texts on art. Some twenty writings appeared between 1915 and 1930, but many manuscripts remained unpublished. Not all of them are directly related to artistic practices alone. For example, La Paresse comme vérité effective de l'homme, written in 1921 and published in French by Allia in 1995, is a revolutionary text insofar as communism itself appears to be surpassable.

The landscapes and scenes of daily life often show a dominant use of red and green, colours that can also be found in certain Orthodox icons. The gouaches of 1910-1911 are influenced by Fauvism, but also by neo-primitivism and protocubism. In the years 1912-1913, he produced cubist and futurist paintings.

Kazemir Malevich - Black Circle, motive 1915, painted 1924, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Kazemir Malevich - Black Circle, motive 1915, painted 1924, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Kazemir Malevich - Black Cross, 1920s, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Kazemir Malevich - Black Cross, 1920s, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Kazemir Malevich - Red Square: Painterly Realism of a Peasant Woman in Two Dimensions, 1915.
Kazemir Malevich - Red Square: Painterly Realism of a Peasant Woman in Two Dimensions, 1915.
Kazemir Malevich - Suprematist Composition, painted in 1915.
Kazemir Malevich - Suprematist Composition, painted in 1915.


  • 1906
    • Red Roof, where Monet's influence is recognisable.
  • 1908-1910
    • Self-portrait.
  • 1910
    • Suprematist Composition, at MoMA, New York.
  • 1911
    • Peasant's Head (Malevich 1911), private collection St. Petersburg.
    • The Harvest Season, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
    • Frotteurs de parquet, gouache on paper, inspired by Gustave Caillebotte's painting.
    • On the Boulevard, gouache on paper, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
    • The Portrait of Ivan Klioune.
    • Étude de paysan, gouache on paper, Centre Pompidou, Paris.
    • The Cow and the Violin, Russian Museum (St Petersburg), 1911 according to Malevich.
  • 1912
    • Morning in the Country after Snowstorm, in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
    • The Woodcutter, in the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
    • Harvesting Rye, cubo-futurist composition.
    • The Reaper on Red Background, in the National Museum of Fine Arts, Nizhny Novgorod.
  • 1913
    • The Remover, at the Yale University Art Gallery
    • Samovar, Museum of Modern Art, New York.
    • Victory over the Sun, series of drawings for the show of the same name.
    • The Gravedigger, a watercolour in which the first black square appears.
    • The Portrait of Mikhail V. Matiushin, at the Centre Pompidou, Paris.
  • 1914
    • Soldier of the First Division, collage.
    • Partial eclipse with Mona Lisa (1914), composition with the Mona Lisa (an attack on the famous painting, it announces Dadaism).
    • The Aviator in the Russian Museum, St Petersburg.
    • An Englishman in Moscow, in the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
  • 1915
    • Black Square on a White Background (1915) in the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.
    • Self-portrait in two dimensions.
    • Croix noire, Centre Pompidou, Paris (gift of the Scaler Foundation and the Beaubourg Foundation in 1980).
    • Alogisme, Centre Pompidou, Paris.
    • Stroyuschiysya dom, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra , Australia.
    • Painterly Realism of a Football Player, at the Art Institute of Chicago, USA.
    • Woman with a Rake, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.
  • 1916
    • Suprematist Painting, Wilhelm Hacke Museum, Ludwigshafen.
    • Suprematism (Supremus #58. Yellow and Black), Russian Museum, St. Petersburg.
  • 1918
    • White Square on White Background, reprint of the 1915 painting.
  • 1917
    • Suprematism, at the Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art in Sakura, Japan.
  • 1923
    • The Architectones, architectonic Beta (1926), white constructions made of glued elements with a cubic base.
  • 1928-1932
    • Two figures of men.
    • Landscape with Five Houses, Russian Museum, St Petersburg20.
    • Foreboding, Russian Museum, St Petersburg.
    • Girls in the Country, Russian Museum, St. Petersburg.
    • Peasants, Russian Museum, St. Petersburg.
  • 1923-1930
    • Carré noir, Musée national d'Art moderne, Paris
  • 1930
    • Black-faced peasant woman, in the form of a coffin.
  • 1930-1931
    • Deported Women (cut in half).
    • Sensation du danger, oil on canvas at the Centre Pompidou, Paris.
    • The White Horse in the Centre Pompidou, Paris.
  • 1932
    • Red House, a prison with blind walls to show Russian suffering.
    • Complex premonition or Bust with a yellow shirt.
    • Girl with a comb in her hair, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.
  • Around 1932
    • The Charge of the Red Cavalry.


A typface; Malevich, was designed by Olga Tereshenko and published by BBDO Studio.


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Alogic Cubism
Digital Suprematism
El Lissitzky
Kasimir Severinovich Malevich
Kazimierz Malewicz
Kazimir Malevich
Kazimir Malevich
Kazimir Malevitsj
Russian Constructivism


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This page was last changed on 2021-09-21.