Throughout the second half of 1915, Malevich worked intensively to develop his ideas, painting new canvases but also writing, as he attempted to define the precepts of suprematism. In December 1915 he felt ready to launch suprematism, and unveiled a selection of thirty-nine works at the group exhibition The Last Exhibition of Futurist Painting 0.10 (Zero-Ten), held in Petrograd.
A single photograph survives to show the layout of Malevich’s paintings. Nine out of the twelve paintings whose whereabouts are known today are shown here in a display evoking the original exhibition. Particularly significant was the placing of the Black Squarein an upper corner, the position traditionally occupied by an icon in Orthodox homes. The gesture seemed to emphasise the spiritual qualities of Malevich’s signature painting, although some viewers interpreted it as provocative blasphemy. It can also be seen in the context of Vladimir Tatlin’s Corner Counter Reliefs – abstract sculptures that were similarly placed in the corner of the room, and appeared in the same exhibition.
Some of the paintings in 0.10 are based on elemental geometric forms such as the square or the cross, while others depict more complex arrangements of form and colour. Occasionally their titles play on the tension between abstraction and figuration, such as Red Square (Painterly Realism of a Peasant Woman in Two Dimensions) 1915.