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Suprematism Collage

Suprematism

Started: 1913

Ended: Late 1920s

Suprematism Timeline

Quotes

"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."
Kazimir Malevich
"Only with the disappearance of a habit of mind which sees in pictures little corners of nature, madonnas and shameless Venuses, shall we witness a work of pure, living art.
Kazimir Malevich
I say to all: reject love, reject aestheticism, reject the trunks of wisdom, for in the new culture your wisdom is laughable and insignificant. I have untied the knot of wisdom and set free the consciousness of color! Remove from yourselves quickly the hardened skin of centuries, so that you can catch up with us more easily. I have overcome the impossible and formed gulfs with my breathing. You are in the nets of the horizon, like fish! We, the Suprematists, throw open the way to you. Hurry! For tomorrow you will not recognize us.
Kazimir Malevich
"I reduced painting to its logical conclusion and exhibited three canvases: red, blue, and yellow. I affirmed: this is the end of painting"
Alexander Rodchenko
"I transformed myself in the zero form and emerged from nothing to creation, that is, to Suprematism, to the new realism in painting- to non-objective creation"
Kazimir Malevich
"[Suprematism] will liberate all those engaged in creative activity and make the world into a true model of perfection. 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."
El Lissitzky, 1918
"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
"I have broken the blue boundary of color limits, come out into the white; beside me comrade-pilots swim in this infinity"
Kazimir Malevich

KEY ARTISTS

Kazimir MalevichKazimir Malevich
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Ilya ChashnikIlya Chashnik
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El LissitzkyEl Lissitzky
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Alexander RodchenkoAlexander Rodchenko
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Olga RozanovaOlga Rozanova
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Nikolai SuetinNikolai Suetin
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"Suprematism has advanced the ultimate tip of the visual pyramid of perspective into infinity.... We see that Suprematism has swept away from the plane the illusions of two-dimensional planimetric space, the illusions of three-dimensional perspective space, and has created the ultimate illusion of irrational space, with its infinite extensibility into the background and foreground."

El Lissitzky Signature

Synopsis

Suprematism, the invention of Russian artist Kazimir Malevich, was one of the earliest and most radical developments in abstract art. Its name derived from Malevich's belief that Suprematist art would be superior to all the art of the past, and that it would lead to the "supremacy of pure feeling or perception in the pictorial arts." Heavily influenced by avant-garde poets, and an emerging movement in literary criticism, Malevich derived his interest in flouting the rules of language, in defying reason. He believed that there were only delicate links between words or signs and the objects they denote, and from this he saw the possibilities for a totally abstract art. And just as the poets and literary critics were interested in what constituted literature, Malevich came to be intrigued by the search for art's barest essentials. It was a radical and experimental project that at times came close to a strange mysticism. Although the Communist authorities later attacked the movement, its influence was pervasive in Russia in the early 1920s, and it was important in shaping Constructivism, just as it has been in inspiring abstract art to this day.

Key Ideas

The Suprematists' interest in abstraction was fired by a search for the 'zero degree' of painting, the point beyond which the medium could not go without ceasing to be art. This encouraged the use of very simple motifs, since they best articulated the shape and flat surface of the canvases on which they were painted. (Ultimately, the square, circle, and cross became the group's favorite motifs.) It also encouraged many Suprematists to emphasize the surface texture of the paint on canvas, this texture being another essential quality of the medium of painting.
Though much Suprematist art can seem highly austere and serious, there was a strong tone of absurdism running through the movement. One of Malevich's initial inspirations for the movement was zaum, or transrational poetry, of some of his contemporaries, something that led him to the idea of zaum painting.
The Russian Formalists, an important and highly influential group of literary critics, who were Malevich's contemporaries, were opposed to the idea that language is a simple, transparent vehicle for communication. They pointed out that words weren't so easily linked to the objects they denoted. This fostered the idea that art could serve to make the world fresh and strange, art could make us look at the world in new ways. Suprematist abstract painting was aimed at doing much the same, by removing the real world entirely and leaving the viewer to contemplate what kind of picture of the world is offered by, for instance, a Black Square (c. 1915).

Beginnings

Suprematism Image

Suprematism was an art movement founded in Russia during the First World War. The first hints of it emerged in background and costume sketches that Kazimir Malevich designed in 1913 for Victory Over the Sun, a Futurist opera performed in St. Petersburg. While the drawings still have a clear relationship to Cubo-Futurism (a Russian art movement in which Malevich was prominently involved), the simple shapes that provide a visual foundation for Suprematism appear repeatedly. Rich color is also discarded in favor of black and white, which Malevich later used as a metaphor for creation in his writings. Of particular importance is the Black Square (c. 1915), which became the centerpiece of his new movement.

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Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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