Kasmir Malevich

Kunsthalle Bielefeld

WHY DID KASIMIR MALEVICH, whose name has become the very embodiment of abstract painting, end his life's work with figure paintings and portraits that strike admirers of Suprematism with pure horror? Why this treason against the square? Not even this exhibition of works from the collection of the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, the largest show to date of Malevich's late period, can offer an answer. But what if it was not treason at all? What if this development was inherent in the painter's work from the very beginning?

The exhibition contained many depictions of peasants, whom Malevich (following a prerevolutionary usage) referred to as “krestjane” (“baptized ones”). In 1915 when he and the poet Velimir Khlebnikov were looking for a name for their art, they decided on “Budetjane,” coined from budet (it shall be) and jane, the suffix taken from krestjane. So it means something like

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