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Kazimir Malevich and the Russian Avant-Garde

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam to February 2

By: Roger D’Hondt - 10/17/2013

Click to Enlarge
Bader 1911.
Bader 1911.
Transitional work with the infuence of Cubism.
Transitional work with the infuence of Cubism.
Red Cross from 1920-22
Red Cross from 1920-22

The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam presents “Kazimir Malevich and the Russian Avant-Garde”, the largest survey in twenty years devoted to the work of the Russian avant-garde pioneer Kazimir Malevich (1878–1935) through February 2, 2014.

The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam holds the largest collection of Malevich’s work outside of Russia. The collection is augmented by the exceptional collections of the Nikolai Khardzhiev Foundation and Georges Costakis (housed by the State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki). It’s the first time that this collection is presented abroad from Thessaloniki (Greece). Pioneering Russian collectors of the Russian avant-garde, Khardzhiev and Costakis assembled considerable holdings of works during a time when abstract art was forbidden in the Soviet Union. Other lenders to the Exhibition are museums and private collectors from all over the world.

The exhibition is co-produced with Tate Modern, London, and the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundeskunsthalle), Bonn, where it will travel in 2014. Each venue explores Malevich’s rich career from distinctive vantage points, focusing on different aspects of the artist’s remarkable career, including the context in which he formed his unique language, the radicality of his artistic trajectory, and his later return to landscapes and figures. Seen in their totality, these exhibitions  provide the unprecedented opportunity to reassess one of the defining figures of twentieth-century modernism.

The exhibition, curated by Geurt Imanse and Bart Rutten, presents more than 500 works within the context of his contemporaries. The exhibition is a tribute to the artist and his contemporaries, as well as the culmination of 2013 as the year celebrating Dutch–Russian relations in the Netherlands.

Malevich was not only an artist, he was an influential teacher and a passionate defender of the “new” art. The show  presents the Russian avant-garde of the early 20th century, with Malevich as its focal point. Although best known for his purely abstract work, he was inspired by diverse art movements of his day, including Impressionism, Symbolism, Fauvism, and Cubism. His own visual language was also influenced by Russian icon painting and folk art.

Through oil paintings, gouaches, drawings, and sculptures, the exhibition traces the rich variety of his oeuvre. All the phases in Malevich’s career will be on view, from his Impressionist period to his iconic Suprematist phase. His “Black Square” was its most radical consequence to the lesser known figurative works that followed. Artists in the Exhibition are Marc Chagall, Ilia Chashnik, Boris Ender, Ksenia Ender, Maria Ender, Yuri Ender, Natalia Goncharova, Wassily Kandinsky, Ivan Kyun, Mikhail Larionov, El Lissitzky, Kazimir Malevich, Mikhail Matyushin, Mikhail Menkov, Vera Pestel, Lyubov Popova, Ivan Puni, Alexander Rodchenko, Olga Rozanova, Nikolai Suetin, Vladimir Tatlin and Nadezhda Udaltsova.

Works on paper offer vital insights into Malevich’s artistic development. Recent research—in which the Stedelijk Museum played an important role—reveals that it is in his drawings that we can follow his artistic quest in the best possible way. Never before have so many Malevich works on paper— mostly from the Khardzhiev Collection—been on public display together.

The exhibition celebrates a number of milestones. It was precisely one hundred years ago that the experimental Cubo-Futurist opera Victory over the Sun (1913) was performed, for which Malevich designed radical, non-realistic sets and costumes. The opera was a turning point in the artist’s career, marking his first experiments with total abstraction.

The exhibition reinforced and confirmed the influence of Malevich in 100 years of modern art.

In conjunction with the Khardzhiev Foundation, the Stedelijk publishes the first comprehensive catalogue of the Khardzhiev Collection, based on extensive research by Geurt Imanse and Frank van Lamoen (ca. 512 pp., nai010 publishers, € 49.50). A catalogue of the exhibition will also be available (256 pp., Walther König Verlag, € 29.80).

The exhibition is accompanied by a public program that will present lectures, discussion evenings, an interpretation of the opera Victory over the Sun, and other events and also presents a curated film program of famous and lesser-known avant-garde films that have a special connection with Malevich.

Exhibition Dates: Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, October 19, 2013–February 2, 2014 Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn March 12–June 21, 2014 and Tate Modern, London July 17–October 26, 2014.

For more information:

Malevich at the Guggenheim.


Reader Comments
From "Arthur Yanoff"
10-18-2013, 04:34 pm
Malevich is great. his reductive work has to be seen in the"flesh"so to speak. later in life when he became discouraged he tried a kind of stiff,academic expressionism. did not work,lacked the vitality and tough vision of his bang bang tensions. i am thrilled that you gave malevich a spot in B F A. last year when moma had the show about beginning abstraction,i was standing in front of a wall of maleviches---some people thought i was nuts to go for his work. abstraction 100 years later is still considered radical. when my own painting took me into abstraction i did not know what i was getting into. abstraction is a lonely road. but there is no return.
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