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Kazimir Malevich Most Famous Paintings
Dawit Abeza
Kazimir Malevich Most Famous Paintings

Kazimir Malevich Most Famous Paintings

Who is Kazimir Malévich?

Kazimir Malévich, born in 1878 in Kiev, moved to Russia at a young age to pursue his dreams to study painting. When he started, he explored different aesthetics and movements, he passed from post-impressionism to cubism, to futurism until he found and created his style: the artistic movement called suprematism.

This movement is characterized by the total abstraction of things, it preaches the supremacy of pure sensibility and represents the world through geometrical shapes and patterns. He worked in this movement and collaborated with different artists until the Russian revolution came in 1917 where he was part of the artistic revolutionary committees.

Two years later he became a teacher at Vitebsk School of Art and since that moment dedicated his life to teaching, he worked in Saint Petersburg with different students and worked at the Institute of Artistic Culture. He exposed his work in Russia and then went on exposing himself to different countries. He passed in 1935 but his work is recognized and preserved. To this day, we can still see how his ideas were of great influence on the evolution of modern art.

So without further ado, here are 12 of Kazimir Malevich's most famous paintings:

  1. Black Square by Kazimir Malevich
  2. White on White by Kazimir Malevich
  3. Red Square by Kazimir Malevich
  4. Black Square and Red Square by Kazimir Malevich
  5. Black Cross by Kazimir Malevich
  6. Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying by Kazimir Malevich
  7. Suprematism. Self Portrait in Two Dimensions by Kazimir Malevich
  8. Bather by Kazimir Malevich
  9. Composition with the Mona Lisa by Kazimir Malevich
  10. Soldier of the First Division by Kazimir Malevich
  11. Stroyuschiysya by Kazimir Malevich
  12. Taking in the Harvest by Kazimir Malevich

Kazimir Malevich Artworks 

Black Square by Kazimir Malevich

Black Square by Kazimir Malevich

This one is probably Malévich's most famous piece because it was the first time someone did a painting without objects or people or animals, to the naked eye he was painting nothing. It's a revolutionary simple and the perfect example of a suprematist piece.

Malévich describes how he focused on the painting itself by establishing limitations of color and shapes so he wouldn't get distracted by the representation of something else.

"Up until now there were no attempts at painting as such, without the attribute of real life... Painting was the aesthetic side of a thing, but never was original and an end itself." wrote Malévich to accompany the painting when it was first exhibited in The Last Exhibition of Futurist Painting 0.10 in St. Petersburg where it was highly placed on a corner making a triangle between the painting and the two walls to make a statement and show the significance of the piece and his artistic movement.

This piece became Malévich's trademark, he even signed other paintings with a little black square. Nowadays, Black Square is considered to be one of the most important pieces of modern art that you can find at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

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White on White by Kazimir Malevich

White on White by Kazimir Malevich 

"I have overcome the lining of the colored sky... Swim in the white free abyss. Infinity is before you." said Malévich to describe his artwork and what it meant following the Russian revolution.

This oil painting is one of Malévich's most reproduced pieces that consists of a white square floating carelessly on a white universe. Like other Malévich pieces, people didn't consider it art at the time and it caused controversy in the artistic world.

It went from one person to another and was left in a museum's storage room until it was eventually given to the MoMa where it's displayed today.

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Red Square by Kazimir Malevich

Red Square by Kazimir Malevich

Also known as Painterly Realism of a Peasant Woman in Two Dimensions, this 21*21 inch red square represents simplicity in its purest form; the red color represents the traditional Russian religious icon paintings.

He represented through the color and its contrast with the white background his spiritual feelings and how he could dig deeper into the unknown. When he created this piece, he envisioned it as a way of abandonment of all materialism. It's held at the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.

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Black Square and Red Square by Kazimir Malevich

Black Square and Red Square by Kazimir Malevich 

Malévich felt that the square form was the basic and simplest representation of abstraction and it was the geometric base form that artists have recurred throughout history.

This piece is also known as Painterly Realism of a Boy with a Knapsack - Color Masses in the Fourth Dimension; these aliases to the paintings help the viewers to make a connection between the concept and what they're looking at. Along with other Malévich artworks, this piece lives at the MoMA.

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Black Cross by Kazimir Malevich

Black Cross by Kazimir Malevich 

Malévich's aim with this piece was to show a painting with no perspective that doesn't take on any physical law, have no up or down, no right or wrong side.

He chose a cross because he saw it as a symbol of a decision that could help him explore new sides of human life and how people behave when they are given two options and how this situation reduces to one of them.

This is an example of how Malévich, besides abstracting concepts to higher levels, symbolism is an important part of his work and lives in every piece he painted in one way or another.

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Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying by Kazimir Malevich

Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying by Kazimir Malevich 

Unlike the other paintings we've reviewed by now, this piece unveils a new form of abstraction by displaying different color geometric shapes floating in the white space organized in a way that we can get a sense of harmony and realism within the shapes, he calls it: new painterly realism.

He plays with the shapes and its geometric properties like rotation, stretching, overlapping or changing planes, for example, to create a deeper abstract composition.

But, what does the airplane mean? At that time, the curiosity of flying and what it'd feel was in vogue. In this piece, the flight is used as a symbol of freedom and awakening the soul, with this painting, Malévich explores his potential of abstraction around this topic and aims to convey the concept of the airplane flying in space through his suprematist style.

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Suprematism. Self Portrait in Two Dimensions by Kazimir Malevich

Suprematism. Self Portrait in Two Dimensions by Kazimir Malevich 

This composition consists of the display of different geometrical shapes of different colors, some rotated and some parallel to the canvas to suggest movement and dynamism in the painting.

In this piece, his purpose was to decompose art into its smallest parts. He shows himself in this portrait as a part of the same artistic movement he had created.

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Bather by Kazimir Malevich

Bather by Kazimir Malevich 

This artwork was made before the most suprematist ones that we've seen, this piece shows the beginning and the evolution of Malévichs artistic movement and despite the difference with them, it still uses the same concept of abstraction and symbolism.

In this painting, we can see a clumsy guy running freely and carelessly through life, even though it doesn't have the restriction of geometrical shapes and we can see this image, we can appreciate how he was using color limitations since this time and how with a few colors he created a powerful image.

Some art critics describe it as a representation of a devil dance, but that wasn't Malévich's purpose, he wanted to depict the dance as a symbol of sophistication and sincerity that lives inside the human body. It was painted with gouache on paper instead of oil in canvas, a material he used during the turn of the decades. We can find it in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

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Composition with the Mona Lisa by Kazimir Malevich

Composition with the Mona Lisa by Kazimir Malevich 

This is a piece in which we can see how Malévich explored other movements before creating his own. This is a cubist piece of art, in it, we can see the use of multiple perspectives created by the overlapped planes.

It is a piece in which the transition of cubism to suprematism is displayed, it's a collage of the two artistic movements and how they can coexist in the same universe as the Mona Lisa. 

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Soldier of the First Division by Kazimir Malevich

Soldier of the First Division by Kazimir Malevich 

Similar to the previous painting we analyzed, this one is another of Malévichs explorations that he did before landing his suprematist style. It's another cubist piece that depicts a portrait of a soldier in the most abstract way used in cubism.

It's accompanied with squares and other shapes that together finish a collage that displays parts of both artistic movements.

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Stroyuschiysya by Kazimir Malevich

Stroyuschiysya by Kazimir Malevich 

We keep seeing how Malévich played with the abstraction of lines, shapes, and colors; this one is no exception.

Translated to "house under construction", this piece that was also painted in oil on canvas, was created under the same concept as other suprematist compositions such as the Airplane Flying applying the same basic units of his visual vocabulary: geometrical shapes rotated, stretched, overlapped and colored in a way that they could live in an armonica white space representing is an original concept. This is one of Malévich's few pieces that we can find at the National Gallery of Australia.

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Taking in the Harvest by Kazimir Malevich

Taking in the Harvest by Kazimir Malevich 

Like we saw in Bather before, we can appreciate the color usage that Malévich applies to display a powerful image, but unlike Bather we can see how in this one he starts putting certain limitations of shapes, even though we see the people and their faces, they're all displayed with the same shapes and forms as the rest of the objects in the painting.

Again we can appreciate the evolution of Malévich's work and how he came from painting one style to defining his own. 

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