Malevich exhibition Mounted By Guggenheim
DePazzi continues in her quest to create a memoir of David
Burliuk's life in New York, the work of one of his contemporaries
from pre-revolutionary days - Kasimir Malevich - is engaged
in a tour of major art institutions around the world.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum last month announced the exhibition
and international tour entitled "Kasmir Malevich: Suprematism,"
and is considered the first exhibition ever to focus exclusively
on the defining moment in the artist's career when he developed
a system of abstract painting which came to be known as
by the Menil foundation in Houston the exhibition will be
presented in New York at the Guggenheim through September
2003, followed by visits to the Menil (Oct 03-Jan 04) and
at the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin (Jan-Apr 2004).
Malevich is considered one of the seminal figures of non-objective
art in the 20th century. From 1915 to 1932 he developed
a system of abstract painting known as Suprematism - an
art of pure form that was meant to be universally comprehensible
regardless of cultural or ethnic origin.
was like Mondrian and Kandinsky in that he attempted to
create an artistic utopia that became the secular equvalent
of religious painting - in this case, intending to replace
the ubiquitous icon in the Russian home.
exhibition brings together approximately 120 paintings,
drawings, and objects drawn from major public and private
collections around the world. Included in the show are works
that have never been shown in the West before, including
several recently discovered masterpieces.
show opens with a group of paintings and drawings from 1913-14
which Malevich called Algoisms, works composed of abstract
signs, symbols, shapes, and word fragments that form a bridge
between his prior Cubist phase and the breakthrough to non
objective art. That watershed occured in 1915, when he painted
a simple black square on a white field, setting in motion
a series of art works that became the focal point for the
pre-Revolutionary years of the Russian avante garde. Other
works from this period show the artist exploring the expressive
potential of this simple form, such as "Four Square,"
"Black Cross," "Extended Square," or
Malevich's vocabulary evolved to include other forms in
simple opposition, and it is here that drawing also became
an important medium in his expanding formulation of Suprematism.
exhibition will demonstrate the importance of drawing to
the artist's broader oeuvre, in part through the presentation
of works that have never been exhibited or published before.
formulation of Suprematism evolved quickly. By late 1915-16
it had shifted from an aesthetic of static composition into
an ever more dynamic realm, exemplifying his new desire
to visually render different states of feeling and non-dimensionality.
By 1917, however, he had returned to a vocabulary of simplicity,
but this time anchored in less concrete form. The works
are aethereal and seem to dissolve into imaginary space.
Other works serve as an extensive dissertation on subtle
transformation, as in his masterpiece "White Square
on White," which would inspire a whole generation of
contemporary artists in Europe and the US in the 60s and
was also deployed into the realm of the practical, with
Malevich experimenting with it as a means for social transformation
through radical architectural form, in plaster studies he
called Architektons. He also engaged in political art, conforming
to the need to serve a new political reality while trying
to remain faithful to his aesthetics - as well as venturing
into the decorative and applied arts, like so many of his
comrades and students.
essentially Malevich remains a painter, and one who was
completely devoted to the spiritual in art. This adherence
to the metaphysical during a time of increasingly volatile
social upheaval in Russia, where art became increasingly
tied to the rigors of poltical process, ultimately led to
the artist's isolation from the artistic vanguard. By the
late 20s he folded Suprematism into an investigation of
the figure, before completely abandoning it in 1932 for
an art steeped in Renaissance portraiture.
exhibition closes with a small group of these Suprematist
figures, the studies for which definitely link them to the
abstract system of the preceding 15 years.
courtesy the Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, NYC)