Kazimir Malevich (b. 1879 in Kyiv and d. 1935 in Leningrad) is a leading member of the “Russian” avant-garde. Malevich was born to Polish parents in Kyiv, living in villages in the Ukrainian countryside until the age of 17. Art historians argue that Malevich’s early life had a deep impression on his work, his use of vibrant colors and his engagement with primitivism being two of the clearest examples. One of the pioneers of abstract art, Malevich was a central figure in a succession of avant-garde movements during the period of the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917 and immediately after. The style of severe geometric abstraction with which he is most closely associated, suprematism, was a leading force in the development of constructivism, the repercussions of which continued to be felt throughout the 20th century. Under increasing pressure from the authorities in Leningrad, Malevich traveled abroad, after the government closed the Leningrad GINK-hUK (State Institute of Artistic Culture) the year before. He participated in several exhibitions in Berlin and Warsaw in 1927 and sought for a way to remain abroad outside the reach of the increasingly conservative Soviet leadership. The Polish authorities denied him refugee status, believing him to be a true Bolshevik, even though his work was being suppressed along with that of other avant-garde artists. A group of Ukrainian officials and artists in Kyiv came to Malevich's aid, among them Ivan Vrona, who offered Malevich a teaching post at the Kyiv Art Institute, where the former served as rector. Malevich’s work was suppressed by the Soviet authorities in the 1930s and remained little known during the following two decades. The reassessment of his reputation in the West from the mid-1950s was matched by the renewed influence of his work on the paintings of Ad Reinhardt and on developments such as Zero, Hard-edge painting and Minimalism.
- Kiev, Ukraine
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