PRINT January 1993

Andrew Solomon

THE NAME OF S. Y. KOCHELEV often comes up in discussions of Kasimir Malevich, Wassily Kandinsky, and Marc Chagall, with all of whom he had close friendships. But the difficulties posed by the provisions of his will, which place all his studio pictures in the collection of the Barnaul Museum of Art and Natural History—Barnaul, a mining town of half a million or so, is 110 miles south of Novosibirsk—have made exhibitions of his work infrequent in the West. There can be little question, however, that Kochelev was the real visionary of postrevolutionary Russia.There is no room here to dwell on how he laid the foundations of Suprematism; this essay is about Kochelev, not his followers. Nonetheless, the layman should recall Malevich’s statement that “although it was my idea to adduce white-on-white abstraction, . . .it was a principle I first located in the remarkable geometric plumage

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