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Who is Kazimir Malevich?

Meet Kazimir Malevich (1879-1935), an artist whose radical artwork tells one of the most important stories in modern art

Kazimir Malevich Self Portrait 1908-1910

Kazimir Malevich Self Portrait 1908-1910 © State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Kazimir Malevich started his life as an artist painting landscapes, farming and religious scenes. He lived during the First World War and the Russian Revolution.

Kazimir Malevich Harvesting Study for a painting

Kazimir Malevich Harvesting Study for a painting, 1928-1929 © State Russian Museum St Petersburg

He invented a style of art called suprematism, a visual language of simple shapes and colours. He used squares, circles and rectangles and only used a few colours to make his artwork. Suprematism was about seeing and feeling art in a new way. Just because he used a few colours and shapes, it doesn't mean his art is impersonal or cold. The trace of the artist's brush strokes are visible in the paint and the slight changes of colour on the canvas.

Kazimir Malevich
Dynamic Suprematism (1915 or 1916)

Don't you think that the shapes above look like they are floating or falling? Why do you think he did this?

Kazimir Malevich Black Square

Kazimir Malevich Black Square 1913 © State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

His most famous piece was Black Square 1915. By reducing painting to a simple shape and a single colour, Malevich removed all the things art had always been about (such as animals, people, food and landscapes). That was why it was so radical at the time! Black Square became one of the most important works of modern art. It was so special that the painting was revealed to the world after months of secrecy and was hidden again for almost 50 years!

Kazimir Malevich Suprematism

Kazimir Malevich Suprematism 1915 © State Russian Museum, St Petersburg

Malevich's colourful abstract art still inspires and puzzles people today. What do you think? What do you feel when you look at Black Square? Why not make your own Malevich-inspired artwork using the Tate Kids painting games?

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