Kasimir Malevich

I think this may be my favourite painting of all. I couldn’t quite believe the purity and the cheek of it when I first saw it in the Stedelijk museum in Amsterdam. It out-austeres Barnett Newman. Historical note for Grey Man on comment one below.

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42 Responses to Kasimir Malevich

  1. Stephen Foster says:

    Malevich visited the Bauhaus in Dessau where he met the architect Walter Gropius (founder of Bauhaus) who was serving as its director. His contacts with German artists would soon become a problem. In 1929 Malevich held a solo exhibition at the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow. The communist authorities were becoming increasingly intolerant of anything that did not conform to their ideals; lately Malevich’s status was quickly declining in favour of the artists of the Socialist Realism. His connections with Germans artists resulted in his arrest in 1930 and the subsequent destruction of many of his manuscripts. Malevich continued to paint mainly in more conventional style as the authorities demanded but life was now very difficult and a struggle to survive. He died penniless in Leningrad 1935.

  2. makemeadiva says:

    Let me out I can’t breathe

    *bangs on wall*

  3. markelt says:

    Say what you like about Stalin. But he knew what he liked. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. OS says:

    Are you alright boy?

    Murders – bright lumps of red – now a black cross that has got me hanging garlic from my puter screen.

    My mail addy is always available if you need to talk about stuff.

    I’ll hold on…


  5. johnnyneptune says:

    o/s yes, but, is it a black cross on white or is it four white squares on a black background

    i like to think the latter, the artist is describing soviet russia as black and bleak, yet recognises that within this there are areas of goodness and purity

  6. OS says:

    Johnny. If you didn’t know who painted it, or the story behind it, what would you see? In my (very humble) opinion, a work of art should speak for itself, and I should be able to hear what it’s saying without an explanation. On my wall is a copy of a painting: August Mack – Woman in a green Jacket. A gift from winger.

    I love it. The colours are fabulous, but it tells it’s own story. The young lady is waiting for someone. Maybe she’s been let down and the young man isn’t coming. Whatever, around her are couples who have gone past that stage in their lives and are complete. There’s no doubt, from her form, that she’s a desirable creature. So, I think to myself; what reason could there be for anyone to let her down? The painting has, in itself, formed it’s own sub-plot, which could lead to a full plot. The painting speaks to me. I can understand it.

    Unfortunately, and it is probably the difference in our minds, and the way they work, I cannot see anything in winger’s black cross, or your four white squares.


  7. makemeadiva says:

    This is my question: if art does not make us feel anything on first impression why would we bother bringing our minds to the party.

    I am wondering if it is a heart v head approach in art appreciation?

    I think I am with OS in any case.

  8. Stephen Foster says:

    I see an abstract composition in the Woman in a Green Jacket as well as a figurative painting and I’m drawn to that; for me the Malevich is a fantastic bold and new gesture, the artistic equivalent of like a man holding out crossed arms in a stance of defiance against some impending threat. They are both bold and confident and they each say to me: this artist believes in what he’s doing.

  9. makemeadiva says:

    I look to art to take me out of myself, if I have to apply any intellect first up it has failed me.

    That is all.

  10. OS says:

    Then you and Johnny and I have all interpreted it differently. That would say more about us than the artist. Is that what you’re getting at, boy?

  11. OS says:

    I think there’s a bit of spirituality in there somewhere, diva. That’s why I’m with you, and winger is on a diferent plane. He would end up at Siberia and you and I would land at Corfu. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  12. Daftburger says:

    Calling that art really makes me cross*!

    * Or square depending on which angle you’re coming from. ๐Ÿ˜›

    Dafburgarianism has already sorted out the ‘What is heart’ debate on a previous blog.

  13. makemeadiva says:

    I have it: I am suffering from the primacy of the aesthetic (perhaps along with a few others).

    Mein host may be approaching it from a conceptual or practical view.

    The debate could be continued along philosophical lines: Kant, Croce to begin with.

  14. Stephen Foster says:

    Siberia is perfect for me : white on white.

  15. Stephen Foster says:

    Hanging’s too good fer it!

  16. Stephen Foster says:

    I don’t think there’s any necessary division between the conceptual and the aesthetic, Hirst’s Shark* is a good example:

    Look: death is huge but magnificent and beautiful and overwhelming.

    * Title: The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.

  17. OS says:

    God! They’re speaking in tongues!

    Oi, daftbugger, I thort you wus noramal! Well, sort of abnoramal noramal. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


  18. Stephen Foster says:

    Your basic Kant, OS:

    the human mind is an active originator of experience rather than just a passive recipient of perception.

    ie, you make your own interpretation of stuff, as I have seen you do on many an occasion not least when you manufactured that octo-shot espresso.

  19. OS says:

    >the human mind is an active originator of experience,…

    That’s a paradox. My octo-esperesso was an unrehearsed action, and anything that has followed from it has been a reaction. So, the original was not a deliberate original thought, it was an accident. However, from experience, one can cococt an original thought.

    I don’t know where to start on the picture of TTB above. I will have to think about that one. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    M. le etc…

  20. makemeadiva says:

    This does my head in but now I have been doing some *deep* thinking.

    As an adult, and doubly so one who has been “educated”, the division between the the aesthetic and the conceptual becomes barely perceptible, but I say take a child round an art gallery and tell me about the conceptual then. And I think that is partly why abstract art can make people respond in a cross way. There is a certain arrogance (to me) wherein the audience has to entertain the concept of the artist, their motivation, their message… I want art where, childlike, I can just be, then think at my own leisure, not because any appreciation demands it of me in the moment of looking.

    As for Mr Hirst, that is a somewhat despotic existential title for something that cost six grand to haul out of the sea to make into “art”; now that is conceptual arrogance and that makes me cross. People have been preserving stuff for years. Mick the Miller is stuffed in a museum in Hertfordshire, but it’s just taxidermy.

    ๐Ÿ™‚ Now I can have a lovely aesthetic day ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Daftburger says:

    How dare you call me noramal! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  22. OS says:

    I didn’t! I ended up saying you wus sort of abnoramal noramal.

    This sort of abnoramal noramal….

  23. mikethegerm says:

    Black and white eh? You can take the boy out of Chell etc

  24. Stephen Foster says:

    haha: for those who will not understand the germ is calling me a Port Vale fan based on my admiration of the Malevich canvas and my geographic point of origination.

    We call this ratiocinative reasoning, whereby two true propositions are put together to draw a false conclusion: eg. trains are long, buses are long, therefore some trains are buses.

  25. Stephen Foster says:

    He’s referencing his own childhood experience of being fascinated with museum exhibits and artifacts to be looked at in glass tanks in the Shark, though, that’s a very deliberate part of it. And I’ve seen with my own eyes that children really respond to that piece.

    I find the argument against *some* modern art weird, it seems to me it says – ‘it should be a simple picture like in 19oo that I can understand,’ but that principle doesn’t extend to other forms, no one says, ‘all popular music should be like Gilbert and Sullivan,’ or even ‘all popular music should be like the Beatles.’

  26. makemeadiva says:

    Right I must leave this alone (after this). I am not saying we should not all appreciate what we like in our own way. What I think I am saying, but I have got a bit confused, is that definitely children know what they are drawn to or dislike but that does not make it art. And I don’t actually want to look at a shark and have to think about the “creator’s” childhood to appreciate it and E drew a tap-dancing dolphin this morning which was a little bit clever and amusing but was it ART?

    I am not against modern art, or things I don’t understand, but I like to “feel” what I see and being required to understand something as part of the process seems elitist. It is actually oppressive: I will make this thing and if you do not care to understand it or me then judgements can be cast on you. Not me the artist…

    Oh bollocks to it. I’m sticking with the dolphin ๐Ÿ˜‰

  27. Stephen Foster says:

    This below is a widely regarded old time masterpiece ie Manet’s ‘Olympia.’ Do you need to understand anything about the social context and so on to appreciate it, or will it do that it’s just a picture of a white lady, a black lady, a bunch of flowers and a cat. (Desists from using the word ‘pussy.’) : )

  28. makemeadiva says:

    I hate it on sight. Not because the woman is naked, but because the cat is crap.

    So my feelings dictate how I engage with it. Therefore there is no understanding of it, nor desire for it. Unless we want to discuss the concepts of cat and black and white and flowers which I am not ready for.

    Have we all got a bit annoyed? Really, I can’t stand that picture, but what I will do is find something I don’t know anything about or understand, but I do like.

  29. johnnyneptune says:

    o/s, back to the macke

    i see more than a woman on her own and a hidden story as to why (personally, i think she’s lost her husband, hence why the colours in her turn to black)

    why are the people looking over the edge of the wall? what’s down there? a quick look at the artist’s life shows that he has travelled over europe trying to find a method he can call his own to paint – he goes through cubism, expressionism, fauvism, but surely the reason he’s constantly meeting with these new schools means he’s not entirely sure what he’s looking for: wa la bingo bango, the faceless couples looking at something but we don’t know what.

    so yes, you can look at it and enjoy it for itself but there is also something to be found if you stop and think further. europe’s on the brink of war – is this possibly what the artist is trying to suggest? we don’t know what’s around the corner, we can’t possibly see what’s going to happen. and it’s casting a very individual fear on everybody

    or, i’m talking bollox ๐Ÿ˜‰

  30. OS says:

    Wa la bingo bango! No Johnny, you’re not. All that I can understand, no problemo. And I appreciate your comments about what may have been going through Macke’s mind. Unlike you, I haven’t studified the man. So, therefore, I take from the picture wot I see. I have a mind, too. I think. So, when these expressionists paint this abstract stuff, do they think: Whoever looks at my paintings will have to an in-depth analysis of me, because the painting is about me? That’s a bloody selfish way of ‘art’. They might as well do zillions of them and lock them up in their attic, or put them on the Oatcake to tease a few of the sods on there. After all, I do it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    GGOS. (Hon Umb) POC.

  31. OS says:

    NB: Johnny, it’s a bit like trying to understand the mind of a savant…looking at the painting of four white skwares/black cross and four drying sprigs of garlic. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  32. OS says:

    >Have we all got a bit annoyed?

    This blog is a bit like religion, diva. ๐Ÿ™‚

    >…I canโ€™t stand that picture, but what I will do is find something I donโ€™t know anything about or understand, but I do like.

    This should be good. I’m holding on…


  33. OS says:

    Pah, to your ratiocinative reasoning.

    That’s crackers thinking. Trains run on rails and buses run on tyres, no matter how bloody long they are. Never the twain shall meet unless they become a bloody tram.

    Germ…take two brownie points. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  34. Stephen Foster says:

    It’s the liminal that I’m striving to guide you towards; it’s not the art, it’s the spaces between the art…

  35. johnnyneptune says:

    well yes but no but…

    surely you can enjoy the ‘art’ of a black cross on a white background in and for itself without knowing the background. aesthetically it’s very pleasing isn’t it? the straight lines, the dichotomy between the colours.

  36. makemeadiva says:

    If only you’d mentioned the bleeding liminal earlier we’d have saved all this aggro…

    Anyway, the result of the experiment is this. I found lots of things that I liked, but the title would betray the concept, or I’d find lots of things that on inspection seemed to represent something familiar. This was as close as I could get to my brief. I reckon I could look at this and contemplate with zero understanding (except perhaps on a molecular level :-P)

  37. Daftburger says:

    I don’t think we’re getting annoyed it’s just usual Stokie conversation inner it?

    Post man Pat, Post man Pat, Post man Pat and his black and white cat……….

  38. Stephen Foster says:

    That solves it in one Ms Diva, you gravitate to the organic while the blog tends towards the crystalline.

  39. OS says:

    Well, aktewally, I like the one diva gives us, and even though I don’t understand it, I could actually live with it and smile at it from time to time. I think then, it’s the crystalline I don’t like. My spirit is on a different level to the crystalline. I’m an Organic Monster.

  40. OS says:

    Johnny, no. I just cannot enjoy it. My spirit rejects it as being dark and foreboding, and I don’t like dark and foreboding.

  41. Stephen Foster says:

    Well, thanks all, this is heading for a record breaking collection of comments for a post that hasn’t been linked up off a newspaper article or similar; I’m fascinated and thrilled that visual representations can generate all these thoughts and opinions and feelings.

    Perhaps the power of art it is it requires you to stand still and consider it and ask yourself why you take issue or agree. It’s quite a rare thing now that kind of contemplation (apart from OS, who is generally to be found studying his navel, or, actewally, has he just nodded off again?)


  42. OS says:

    >Itโ€™s quite a rare thing now that kind of contemplation (apart from OS, who is generally to be found studying his navel, or, actewally, has he just nodded off again?)

    Well, no, aktewally. I was thinking about retrograde ejaculashun. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I agree, it has been an interesting debacle.


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