Kazimir Malevich

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Malevich, Kazimir Severingvich


Born Feb. 11 (23), 1878, near Kiev; died May, 15, 1935, in Leningrad. Soviet artist.

Malevich studied in Moscow at the School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture in 1904 and 1905 and at the studio of F. I. Rerberg from 1905 to 1910. He participated in several exhibitions, including the Jack of Diamonds (1910), the Donkey’s Tail (1912), and the futurist 0.10 (1915-16). In the first decade of the 20th century, Malevich strove to combine the principles of cubism and futurism (Haymaking, 1909; A Station Without a Stop, 1911). He later became one of the pioneers of abstract art. Malevich explained his own work in a vague and mystical way. He reduced a physical object to combinations of the simplest geometric forms. These forms contrasted in color and were scattered about a plane. This artistic theory, which is known as suprematism, led from the very beginning to a denial of the social and cognitive tasks of artistic creation and painting proper (Black Square, 1913). In 1918, Malevich designed the set for the first staging of V. V. Mayakovsky’s Mystery-Bouffe.

In the early 1920’s, Malevich became interested in industrial and applied art. As a teacher in the People’s School of Art in Vitebsk (1919-22) and the director of the Leningrad State Institute of Artistic Culture (1923-27), he did research on the formal vocabulary of the plastic arts. He also worked out functional designs for dishes, designed textiles, and drew models for a new type of spatial organization. In the early 1930’s, Malevich made efforts to return to representational painting and to address himself to Soviet themes (The Girl With a Red Staff, 1932). All the aforementioned paintings are in the Tret’iakov Gallery.


Ot kubizma k suprematizmy. Paris, 1916.
Suprematizm. Vitebsk, 1920.
Essays on Art: 1915-1933. New York, 1971.


Fedorov-Davydov, A. Vystavka proizvedenii K. S. Malevicha. Moscow, 1929.
Reingardt, L. “Abstraktsionizm.” In the collection Modernizm. Moscow, 1973. Pages 112-15.
Kasimir Malevich: 1878-1935. An Exhibition. … London, 1959.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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