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First Five Books
Explore the books that started a collection.
Explore the Guggenheim’s 20th-century collection in this exhibition featuring 40 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper.
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"Malevich's Suprematism and Religion"
Kazimir Malevich: Suprematism
Published in 2003
8 pages, fully illustrated
According to Kazimir Malevich, the black square represents much more than just a pure form of nonobjective art—it represents the divine. Surveying the presence of religion throughout Malevich's oeuvre, looking particularly at his lectures and manifestos, Yevgenia Petrova’s essay offers a detailed account into the mind behind the black squares.
Why did Malevich return so often to the black square throughout his career? Was it the urge to reproduce his original masterpiece, or did these repetitions manifest a particular idea? The artist's own writings show that his approach to the black square in 1920 differed cardinally from his stance in 1913, when his seminal canvas first appeared in a performance of the Futurist opera Pobeda nad solntsem (Victory Over the Sun) as part of the sets that launched Suprematism. The black square now acquired not just aesthetic significance, but spiritual significance. In a 1920 letter to Mikhail Gershenzon, Malevich wrote: "This is the form of a new living organism.... It is not painting; it is something else." He continued: "I had the idea that were humanity to draw an image of the Divinity after its own image, perhaps the black square is the image of God as the essence of His perfection on a new path for today's fresh beginning." This may suggest why Malevich repeated the black square several times: its form and color appear to have best expressed the artist's understanding of the image of God in the relationship between man and the universe.