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Kasimir Malevich

Black square on white background


Back to basics

The Russian Kasimir Malevich, who was one of the pioneers of abstract art in the 1910s, is best known for having been the founder - and the main representa-

so much  - of an avant-garde current that he has

baptized itself " Suprematism" . This

name, sounding somewhat eso-

teric, actually reflects the ambition  of

Malevich: say the supremacy of the "senti-

pure " through forms themselves

same "pure", that is to say freed from

of all  figurative load,  symbolic or

same  suggestive.

It was in 1915 that he produced the work which

turned from base, if not from manifesto, to Suprematism: the Black square on a white background . Followed shortly by the Black Circle

on a white background or the black cross on a white background . 

Simple shapes that do not lend themselves to any interpretation, and colors that could not be more neutral: what

            wanted Malevich, it was to find the "degree

            zero of the  painting" , to create works that

            would not return  to no one else  reality that the

            painting itself . And whatever we think

            today from the  mystical dimension of which

            tinted his  theories,  force is to admit-

            to be freed in this way  of centuries of

            tradition  to return to the pictorial vocabulary

            the most elementary , Malevich opened the

            way to  generations of artists who, to their

            turn have  questioned the original nature of painting and the emotions it was able to arouse. 

Black Circle on White Background , 1915

What we can take away:

We arrive, whatever the nature of our activity, after generations of men and women who have participated in  the progressive complexification of a system. And as heirs to this system, it is difficult for us to question it. However, the intellectual exercise is interesting: by getting rid of the layers of complexity accumulated over time, we can reach the essence of our profession, rediscover its raison d'être, and perhaps  glimpse  new ways to exercise it differently, ways hitherto hidden by artificial sophistication.

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