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Suprematism

early 20th-century art movement
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…"
Kazimir Malevich

Suprematism is an art movement focused on basic geometric forms, such as circles, squares, lines, and rectangles, painted in a limited range of colours.  Suprematism was founded by Kazimir Malevich in Russia around 1913 and announced in Malevich's 1915 exhibition, The Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings 0.10, in St. Petersburg where he, alongside thirteen other artists, exhibited thirty-six works in a similar style.

Suprematism in QuotesEdit

sorted chronologically, by date of the quotes on Suprematism

  • And amid the thunderous roar of a world in collision WE, ON THE LAST STAGE OF THE PATH TO SUPREMATISM BLASTED ASIDE THE OLD WORK OF ART LIKE A BEING OF FLESH AND BLOOD AND TURNED IT INTO A WORLD FLOATING IN SPACE. WE CARRIED BOTH PICTURE AND VIEWER OUT BEYOND THE CONFINES OF THIS SPHERE AND IN ORDER TO COMPREHEND IT FULLY THE VIEWER MUST CIRCLE LIKE A PLANET ROUND THE PICTURE WHICH REMAINS IMMOBILE IN THE CENTER. The empty phrase 'art for art's sake' had already been wiped out.
    • El Lissitzky, in 'Suprematism in World Reconstruction', Lazar M. Lisitsky, 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
    • (despite its title, this text [and the quote] acted as a retrospective commentary on Malevich's original formulation of Suprematism and advances a far wider concept - Lissitsky later called 'constructive' method.
  • 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. [But in this text postponed in a far wider concept than Malevich meant his Suprematism ]
    • ** El Lissitzky, in 'Suprematism in World Reconstruction', Lazar M. Lisitsky, 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
    • (despite its title, this text [and the quote] acted as a retrospective commentary on Malevich's original formulation of Suprematism and advances a far wider concept - Lissitsky later called 'constructive' method.
  • I have not invented anything, only the night I have sensed, and in it the new which I called Suprematism.
    • Kazimir Malevich, as quoted in Walter Hess, Dokumente zum Verständnis der modernen Malerei (Hamburg, 1956), p. 98

'Suprematism' 1927, part of The Non-Objective World, by Kazimir MalevichEdit

Quotes from: the original text 'Suprematism', 1927[1], in The Non-Objective World by Kazimir Malevich; translated from the German publication of 1927 by Howard Dearstyne; publ. Paul Theobald and Company, Chicago, 1959

  • Under Suprematism I understand 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, as such, quite apart from the environment in which it is called forth.
    • p. 117 - first sentence of the text 'Suprematism', 1927
  • Academic naturalism, the naturalism of the Impressionists, Cezanneism, Cubism, etc. - all these, in a way, are nothing more than dialectic methods which, as such, in no sense determine the true value of an art work.
    • p. 117
  • Feeling is the determining factor . . and thus art arrives at non-objective representation - at Suprematism.. ..The art of the past which stood, at least ostensibly, in the service of religion and the state, will take on new life in the pure (un-applied) art of Suprematism, which will build up a new world-the world of feeling ....
    • p. 117
  • 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 is lost. We are in a desert .... Before us is nothing but a black square on a white background!'
    • p. 117/118
  • Even I was gripped by a kind of timidity bordering on fear when it came to leaving 'the world of will and idea', in which I had lived and worked and in the reality of which I had believed.
    But a blissful sense of liberating non-objectivity drew me forth into the 'desert', where nothing is real except feeling ... and so feeling became the substance of my life. This was no 'empty square' which I had exhibited but rather the feeling of non-objectivity.
    • p. 118
  • I realized that the 'thing' and the 'concept' were substituted for feeling and understood the falsity of the world of will and idea. Is a milk bottle, then, the symbol of milk? Suprematism is the rediscovery of pure art which, in the course of time, had become obscured by the accumulation of 'things'.
    • p. 118
  • It was nothing other than a yearning for speed . . . for flight ... which, seeking an outward shape, brought about the birth of the airplane. For the airplane was not contrived in order to carry business letters from Berlin to Moscow, but in obedience to the irresistible drive of this yearning for speed to take on external form.
    • p. 119
  • The suprematist square and the forms proceeding out of it can be likened to the primitive marks (symbols) of aboriginal man which represented, in their combinations, not ornament but a feeling of rhythm.
    • p. 119
  • Every object which we see in the museums clearly supports the fact that not one single, solitary thing is really useful, that is, convenient, for otherwise it would not be in a museum! And if it once seemed useful I this is only because nothing more useful was then known ....
    • p. 121
  • The Suprematists have nevertheless abandoned the representation of the human face (and of natural objects in general) and have found new symbols with which to render direct feelings (rather than externalized reflections of feelings), for the Suprematist does not observe and does not touch - he feels.
    • p. 123
  • The sensations of sitting, standing, or running are, first and foremost, plastic sensations and they are responsible for the development of corresponding 'objects of use' and largely determine their form. A chair, bed, and table are not matters of utility but rather, the forms taken by plastic sensations..
    • p. 123
  • Suprematism has opened up new possibilities to creative art, since by virtue of the abandonment of so-called 'practical considerations' a plastic feeling rendered on canvas can be carried over into space. The artist (the painter) is no longer bound to the canvas (the picture plane) and can transfer his compositions from canvas to space.
    • p. 124 – final sentence of the text 'Suprematism', 1927 by Malevich

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