Kasimir Malevich 1878-1935
T02319 Dynamic Suprematism
Inscribed 'Supremus | N 57 | Kazimir Malevich | Moskva | 1916' on back of canvas (Kazimir Malevich and Moskva in cyrillic old spelling)
Oil on canvas, 31 5/8 x 31 5/8 (80.2 x 80.3)
Purchased from Comvalor Finanz AG through Thomas Gibson Fine Art Ltd. (Grant-in-Aid) with aid from the Friends of the Tate Gallery, the Gytha Trust, the Trustees of the Tate Gallery and Discretionary Funds 1978
Prov: Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow (purchased from the artist 1929); Comvalor Finanz AG, Zug
Exh: [?0.10 Poslednaya futuristicheskaya vystavka, Salon N.E. Dobychina, St Petersburg, December 1915-January 1916 (57)]; Bubnozy Valet (Jack of Diamonds), Moscow, November 1916 (among 140-99, all listed as 'Suprematism of Painting'); Vystavka proizvedenii K.S. Malevicha, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, 1929 (works not listed); Khudozhniki RSFSR za 15 let, Russian Museum, Leningrad, November 1932-May 1933 (1239) as 'Dynamic Colour Composition'; Historical Museum, Moscow, June 1933 (1239)
Lit: Troels Andersen, Malevich: Catalogue Raisonné of the Berlin Exhibition 1927, including the Collection of the Stedelilk Museum Amsterdam (Amsterdam 1970), p.106 (note on no.91), repr. p.29 as 'Dynamic Suprematism' 1916
Repr: Camilla Gray, The Great Experiment: Russian Art 1863-1922 (London 1962), pl.XVI in colour as 'Dynamic Suprematism' 1916; Kasimir Malewitsch, Suprematismus - The gegenstandlose Welt (Cologne 1962), pl.15
This picture belonged for over forty years to the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. According to information from I.P. Gorin of the Ministry of Culture of the USSR, it was shown in the three exhibitions of 1916, 1929 and 1932-3 listed above and was acquired in 1929 from an exhibition (presumably the Malevich retrospective at the Tretyakov Gallery itself). A certificate from A.G. Khalturin, head of the Department of Visual Arts and the Preservation of Monuments of the Ministry of Culture of the USSR confirms that permission was given in December 1975 for it to be exported from the Soviet Union.
The canvas is inscribed on the back 'Supremus No.57 Kazimir Malevich Moscow 1916'. A painting inscribed 'Supremus No.50' belongs to the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and two entitled 'Supremus 56' and '58' are in the National Russian Museum in Leningrad. It seems possible that these numbers refer to the exhibition 0.10
held in St Petersburg from 20 December 1915 to 19 January 1916 in which nos. 48-59 were works by Malevich grouped together under the title 'Painterly Masses in Movement'. (Nos. 60-77, also by Malevich, were entitled in contrast 'Painterly Masses in Two Dimensions in a state of Rest'). However both the picture now in the Tate and the one in the Stedelijk Museum are dated on the back 1916, which conflicts with the fact that the exhibition opened in mid-December 1915, and neither of them appears in the installation photographs of parts of the exhibition.
T02319 also bears the stamp of the exhibition Khudozhniki RSFSR za 15 let
(Artists in the RSFSR through 15 years) on the stretcher and seems to have been listed in the catalogue as 'Dynamic Colour Composition', though it has usually been known in recent years as 'Dynamic Suprematism'. A closely related pencil drawing measuring 34.2 x 33.8 cm was placed on extended loan to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1935 but disappeared by 1938 and is still untraced. Troels Andersen reproduces it on p.106 of his monograph with a note that it is a copy of the present work, which was then still in the Tretyakov Gallery. However various minor differences, such as fewer shapes and slight differences in the colours and the placing of the forms, suggest that it was either a preliminary study or a later variant. X-ray photographs of the picture itself confirm the uniformity of the paint layer and the absence of any lower layers or drawing, so the composition seems to have been completely worked out in advance and the forms drawn straight onto the canvas.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.471-2, reproduced p.471