Thursday, August 15, 2013

Young Malevich

Kazimir Malevich (1879-1935) painted Peasant Women With Buckets (above) in 1912-13, the moment when French Cubism effectively arrived in Moscow.  Portrait of Mikhail Matjuschin (below) was painted at the same time. These antique-looking artifacts of Modernism celebrate their first complete century of existence this year. At present they are regarded as no more than a stray footnote to culture (Cubism a fleeting influence on only a handful of artists inside Russia before the tide of innovation swallowed it up and surged past it). Yet to me  paradoxically  they don't seem old enough to account for the fact that every person involved in originally shaping or making or even witnessing them is already dead, while the works themselves remain in first youth, as if only beginning to thrive.

Malevich called his new style Cubo-Futuristic. It held his interest only briefly. By 1915 the artist would  abandon these intricate compositions in favor of a starker geometry. That's when he broke through to the raw minimalism that keeps his name alive today.

Red Square and Black Square (both produced in 1915) served as icons for Suprematism  Malevich's home-grown version of the way modern painting could and should look.