Charting the career of one of the most radical and influential artists of the 20th century.
Video: art historian Rosie Rockel explores the highlights of the show.
Born in 1879 to a Polish family who had fled to Kiev after the failed uprising against the Tsarist army, Malevich spent his childhood living in rural villages across Ukraine where he found a love of peasant art and embroidery. After his father died he moved to Moscow where he studied painting, sculpture and architecture, developing a 'Cubo-futuristic' style that was influenced by his folk art roots.
In the following years – against the backdrop of the October Revolution – Malevich began to experiment with a radical new approach to artistic production. The result was Suprematism, the core principles of which he laid out in a manifesto in 1915. Referring to works based on 'the supremacy of pure artistic feeling' rather than on visual depiction of objects, it favours basic geometric forms, such as circles, squares, lines, and rectangles, painted in a limited range of colours.
The epitomy of these ideals is Malevich's Black Square. Revealed to the world in 1915 after months of secrecy, it was hidden away again for almost half a century after his death. Malevich declared it as the 'face of the new art ... the first step of pure creation’ and it continues to inspire and confound viewers to this day.
This exhibition brings together the artist's early paintings of Russian landscapes, agricultural workers and religious scenes with his abstract and Suprematist compositions. Displayed together they chart the evolution of Malevich's creative practice, as well as providing insight into the historical events that inspired his revolutionary new ways of thinking.
Also featured are examples of sculpture and design that reveal his collaborative involvement with architectural and theatre projects, and the figurative painting he controversially returned to in later life.