Kazimir Malevich

Russian and Soviet artist of polish descent
To the Suprematist the visual phenomena of the objective world are, in themselves, meaningless; the significant thing is feeling.

Kazimir Severinovich Malevich (23 February 187815 May 1935) was a painter, art theoretician, pioneer of geometric abstract art and one of the most important members of the Russian avant-garde. He was also the founder of the art movement Suprematism.

Contents

Quotes of Kazimir MalevichEdit

Malevich, Black square, 1915. I took refuge in the square form and exhibited a picture which consisted of nothing more than a black square on a white field.

1910 - 1920Edit

  • We have rejected reason because we have found another reason that could be called trans-rational, which has its own law, construction and sense.. .This reason has found a way-Cubism-of expressing the object.
    • Quote from Malevich's letter to the composer Matiushin, June 1913; as quoted in Futurism, ed. Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008, p. 266


  • The rectangular picture-plane indicates the starting point of Suprematism; a new realism of color conceived as non-objective creation. The forms of Suprematist art live like all the living forms of nature. This is a new plastic realism, plastic precisely because the realism of hills, sky and water is missing. Every real form is a world. And any plastic surface is more alive than a (drawn or painted) face from which stares a pair of eyes and a smile. [1914]
    • In: Artists on Art; from the 14th – 20th centuries, ed. Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves; Pantheon Books, 1972, London, p. 452


  • Dynamism is also the forming formula for Futurists works; i.e. dynamism is the additional element that transforms the perception of one state of phenomena to another, for example, from a static to a dynamic perception. [c. 1915]
    • Quote in 'Cubofuturism', Malevich, in his Essays on Art, op. cit., vol 2; as quoted in Futurism, ed. By Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008, p. 59


  • There is movement and movement. There are movements of small tension and movements of great tension and there is also a movement which our eyes cannot catch although it can be felt. In art this state is called dynamic movement. This special movement was discovered by the futurists as a new and hitherto unknown phenomenon in art, a phenomenon which some Futurists were delighted to reflect. [c. 1915]
    • In: 'Cubofuturism', Malevich, in his Essays on Art, op. cit., vol 2; as quoted in Futurism, ed. By Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008, p. 59


  • Balla, he advanced Dynamic Futurism.. ..drawing closer, not to the human body but to the machine, as contemporary muscles of a man of today.. .The actual structure of each of Balla’s works tells us that the dynamic power sensed by the artist is incomparable greater than the actual bodies of the machines, and the content of each machine is only a small part of this dynamic power, since each machine is a mere unit from the sum total of the forces of contemporary life. [c. 1915]
    • In: 'Cubofuturism', Malevich, in Essays on Art, op. cit., vol 2; as quoted in Futurism, ed. By Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008, pp. 59, 60


  • I transformed myself in the zero of form and emerged from nothing to creation, that is, to Suprematism, to the new realism in painting – to non-objective creation.
    • Quote in 'From Cubism and Futurism to Suprematism: The New Realism in Painting', Kazimir Malevich, November 1916


  • At the present time man's path lies through space, and Suprematism is a colour metaphor in its infinite abyss. [1916]
    • Quote in 'On space and Suprematism', Kasimir Malevich, 1916; as quoted in Abstract Art, Anna Moszynska, Thames and Hudson, London 1990, p. 58


  • ..the art of futurism.. ..achieved great momentum in the first quarter of the Twentieth Century and remains a basic stimulus in the following forms of new art: Suprematism, Simultaneism, Purism, Odorism, Pankinetism, Tactilism, Haptism, Expressionism and Légerísm [referring to Fernand Léger in the last ...ism, mentioned]
    • In: 'Cubofuturism', Malevich, in Essays on Art, op. cit., vol 2; as quoted in Futurism, ed. By Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008, p. 59


  • The square is not a subconscious form. It is the creation of intuitive reason. The face of the new art. The square is a living, regal infant. The first step of pure creation in art.
    • Quote in 'From Cubism and Futurism to Suprematism: The New Realism in Painting', Kazimir Malevich, November 1916


  • Matiushin's sound [composer of the Futurist opera: 'Victory over the Sun', Malevich did the stage design] shattered the object-word. The curtain was torn, by the same token tearing the scream of consciousness of the old brain. [1917]
    • as quoted in Futurism, ed. By Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008, p. 266


  • Everywhere there is craft and technique, everywhere there is artistry and form. Art itself, technique, is ponderous and clumsy, and because of it awkwardness it obstructs that inner element.. .All craft, technique, and artistry, like anything beautiful, results in futility and vulgarity. [critical quote on Constructivism artists]
    • In: 'On poetry'; as quoted in Futurism, ed. Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008, p. 65


  • It is the experience of the speed of a plane, which was looking for an expression, a form and this caused the plane to come into existence. The plane was not built to take letters from Berlin to Moscow, but to give expression to the irresistible urge to create a form for the experience of speed.
    • As quoted in: Richtingen in de hedendaagsche schilderkunst (Trends in the Present Day Art of Painting), Jacob Bendien - W.L. & J Brusse, Rotterdam,1936, p. 100 (transl. Anne Porcelijn)


  • Only when the habit of one’s consciousness to see in paintings bits of nature, Madonna’s and shameless nudes.. ..has disappeared, shall we see a pure painting composition. I have transformed myself into the nullity of forms and pulled myself out of the circle of things, out of the circle-horizon in which the artist and forms of nature are locked.
    • as quoted in: Marc Chagall, – a Biography, Sidney Alexander, Cassell, London, 1978, p. 178


  • I have broken the blue boundary of color limits, come out into the white, besides me comrade-pilots swim in this infinity. I have established the semaphore of Suprematism. I have beaten the lining of the colored sky, torn it away and in the sack that formed itself, I have put color and knotted it. Swim! The free white sea lies before you.
    • In the 'Catalogue 10th State Exhibition', Kasimir Malevich, Moscow, 1919; as quoted in Autocritique, – essays on art and anti-art 1963 – 1987, Barbara Rose, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, New York, 1988, p. 71


1921 - 1930Edit

  • Man's skull represents the same infinity for the movement of conceptions. It is equal to the universe, for in it is contained all that sees in it. Likewise the sun and whole starry sky of comets and the sun pass in it and shine and move as in nature.. .Is not the whole universe that strange skull in which meteors, suns, comets and planets rush endlessly?
    • In: 'God is not cast down', Malevich, 1922; as quoted in Futurism, ed. By Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008, p. 65


  • I recommend [the students] that you should work actively at the Hermitage and study the artistic structures of Rubens, Rembrandt, Titian, Watteau, Poussin, and other painters, even Chardin, where he is an artist. Study very closely their dabbing manner of execution and try to copy a small piece of canvas, just one square inch.
    • In: a letter to his student Yudin, summer of 1924; as quoted in Marc Chagall – the Russian years 1906 – 1922, ed. By Christoph Vitali, exhibition catalogue, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, 1991, p. 66


  • By Suprematism I mean the supremacy of pure feeling in creative art. To the Suprematist the visual phenomena of the objective world are, in themselves, meaningless; the significant thing is feeling.
    • In 'The Non-Objective World: The Manifesto of Suprematism, 1926; trans. Howard Dearstyne [Dover, 2003, ISBN 0-486-42974-1], 'part II: Suprematism', p. 67


  • When, in the year 1913, in my desperate attempt to free art from the ballast of objectivity, I took refuge in the square form and exhibited a picture which consisted of nothing more than a black square on a white field. The critics and, along with them, the public sighed, 'Everything which we loved was lost. We are in a desert.. .Before us is nothing but a black square on a white background!' But the desert is filled with the spirit of non-objective feeling.. ..which penetrates everything.
    • In 'The Non-Objective World: The Manifesto of Suprematism', 1926; trans. Howard Dearstyne [Dover, 2003, ISBN 0-486-42974-1], 'part II: Suprematism', p. 68


  • By Suprematism, I mean the supremacy of pure feeling in the pictorial arts. From the Suprematist point of view, the appearances of natural objects are in themselves meaningless; the essential thing is feeling – in itself and completely independent of the context in which it has been evoked. Academic naturalism, the naturalism of the impressionists, of Cézannism, [Malevich valued Cezanne's art as a temporarily necessary but still 'provincial art' in the long developing line of modern art], of Cubism, etc., are all so to speak nothing but dialectic methods, which in themselves in no way determine the true value of the work of art. [1927].
    • In: Artists on Art; from the 14th – 20th centuries, ed. by Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves; Pantheon Books, 1972, London, pp. 451


  • The representation of an object, in itself (the objectivity as the aim of the representation), is something that has nothing to do with art, although the use of representation in a work of art does not rule out the possibility of its being of a high artistic order. For the Suprematist, therefore, the proper means is the one that provides the fullest expression of pure feeling and ignores the habitually accepted object. The object in itself is meaningless to him; and the ideas of the conscious mind are worthless. Feeling is the decisive factor.. ..and thus art arrives at non-objective representation – at Suprematism. [1927]
    • In: Artists on Art; from the 14th – 20th centuries, ed. by Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves; Pantheon Books, 1972, London, pp. 452


  • I have not invented anything, only the night I have sensed, and in it the new which I called Suprematism.
    • Quoted in Dokumente zum Verständnis der modernen Malerei, Walter Hess, (Hamburg, 1956), p. 98


  • I too was filled with a sort of shyness and fear, as I was called to leave 'the world of will and idea' in which I had lived and created, and in whose reality I had believed. But the happy liberating touch of non-objectivity drew me out into the 'desert' where only feeling is real.. ..and so feeling became the content of my life. It was no 'empty square' I had exhibited but the feeling of non-objectivity. I perceived that the 'thing' and the 'idea' were taken to be equivalents of feeling, and understood the lie of the world of will and idea. Is the milk bottle the symbol of milk? Suprematism is the rediscovery of that pure art which in the course of time, and by an accretion of 'things', had been lost to sight.
    • As quoted in Artists on Art; from the 14th – 20th centuries, ed. by Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves; Pantheon Books, 1972, London, p. 453


  • The principal element of Suprematism in painting, as in architecture, is its liberation from all social or materialist tendencies. Through Suprematism, art comes into its pure and unpolluted form. It has acknowledged the decisive fact of the nonobjective character of sensibility. It is no longer concerned with illusion.
    • As quoted in Marc Chagall, – a Biography, Sidney Alexander, Cassell, London, 1978, p. 194


Quotes about Kazimir MalevichEdit

chronologically arranged, by date of the quotes
  • This is the model we await from Kasimir Malevich. AFTER THE OLD TESTAMENT THERE CAME THE NEW AFTER THE NEW THE COMMUNIST AND AFTER THE COMMUNIST THERE FOLLOWS FINALLY THE TESTAMENT OF SUPREMATISM.
    • Quote of El Lissitzky in 'Suprematism in World Reconstruction', 1920; as quoted in Russian Art of the Avant-Garde: Theory and Criticism 1902-1934, ed. John E. Bowlt,Viking Press, 1976 p. 151 – 158
    • In this text 'Suprematism in World Reconstruction' Suprematism is postponed by El Lissitsky in a far wider concept than Malevich meant.


  • At present there is an extremely exaggerated formation of groups [students on the School of Art in Vitebsk, founded by Chagall around 'trend'; there are 1. young people following Malevich and 2. young people following me. We both belong to the left-wing artistic movement, although we have different ideas about ends and means.
    • Quote of Marc Chagall (1920), in his letter to Pavel Davidovitch Ettering, 2 April, 1920, as quoted in Marc Chagall - the Russian years 1906 – 1922, editor Christoph Vitali, exhibition catalogue, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, 1991, p. 73


  • Painting.. ..turned to the design of purely abstract volumetric forms.. .Since the leading exponent of the color theory was a painter (Malevich), he failed to recognize the objective reality of the world [in architecture!]. Because he always looked at it only through his own eyes, he remained trapped in a world devoid of real objects. The broader implications of this had to be developed by us, the architects.
    • Quote of El Lissitzky in chapter 'Basic Premises', 'Rußland: Die Rekonstruktion der Architektur in der Sowjetunion', Moscow 1929; as quoted in: 'Interrelationships Between the Art, in: An Architecture for World Revolution', transl. Eric Dluhosch - MIT Press. Cambridge, MA: 1970


  • Typical for the difference between both art movements [Russian Suprematism & Constructivism (art) ] is that Malevich wrote a book entitled 'Gegenstandlose Welt' [World without objects / things]. Whilst El Lissitsky specifically mentioned Gegenstand (object!) in the magazine he published with w:Ilya Ehrenburg.
    • w:Jacob Bendien (1936), in Richtingen in de Hedendaagsche schilderkunst (Trends in the Present Day Art of Painting), Jacob Bendien; W.L & J. Brusse N.V. Rotterdam, 1935 (transl. Anne Porcelijn), p. 100


  • The Suprematists want, where possible, to give 'feelings' absolute supremacy. Even objects such as tables, chairs and beds are, according to Malevich, 'not objects but the form of plastic perceptions'.. .'The experience of sitting, standing or walking are, in the first place plastic experiences'.
    • w:Jacob Bendien (1936), in Richtingen in de Hedendaagsche schilderkunst (Trends in the Present Day Art of Painting), Jacob Bendien; W.L & J. Brusse N.V. Rotterdam, 1935 (transl. Anne Porcelijn), p. 101


  • From the beginning of the [Sovjet] Revolution I was a member of the Committee for Art.. .Later I worked at 'Izo Narkomprosa'. From 1919 I taught at the Higher Artists' Workshops in Vitebsk [the 'Vitebsk Higher Institute of Art', where El Lissitsky and Kazimir Malevich were invited to teach art by the director then Marc Chagall ] (our students Suetin, Judin and others).
    • In: 'Autobiography of the artist', by Lazar Markovič Lissitzky, 1941; as quoted in 'El Lissitzky', ed. Henk Puts - A Catalogue of his Work, in the Stedelijk Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven; the Lissitzky-archives in the Van Abbe Museum, 1991


  • White was for Malevich the color of infinity, and signified a realm of higher feeling.. ..an utopian world of pure form, attainable only through nonobjective art. Indeed, he named his theory of art Suprematism to signify 'the supremacy of pure feeling or perception in the pictorial arts'; and pure perception demanded that a picture's forms 'have nothing in common with nature.' Malevich imagined Suprematism as a universal language that would free viewers from the material world.
    • Quote from the publication excerpt, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 85

External linksEdit

Read in another language