Sunday, February 06, 2011

Kazimir Malevich at the AIC

"The Art Institute of Chicago announces one of the most
significant acquisitions in its history: Kazimir Malevich’s
Painterly Realism of a Football Player—Color Masses in
the 4th Dimension (1915). Joining such works as Georges
Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte––1884, Edward
Hopper’s Nighthawks, El Greco’s Assumption of the Virgin,
Gustave Caillebotte’s Paris Street; Rainy Day, and Henri
Matisse’s Bathers by a River, Malevich’s masterpiece is the first
work of Russian Suprematism to enter the museum’s collection"


That sounds really important - and in a way it is.

Apparently, there is photographic evidence
for 22 works in the Malevich show
"The Last Futurist Exhibition: 0, 10"
held in St. Petersburg, December, 1915.

Of these, the most famous, by far,
is the "Black square on white Ground" ,
which is no more or less than that,
and which currently resides
in the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg.

Of the rest,
9 were lost or destroyed,
and this one
just came onto the market
as the result
of a lawsuit
filed by the Malevich heirs
against the Stedlijk Museum in Amsterdam.

(that story is here and here )

But even more significantly,
there was a long,
and very famous,
artist statement
which accompanied that 1915 exhibition.

"From Cubism and Futurism to Suprematism: The New Realism in Painting"
this tract
sets down the minimalist ideology
that has been defining Modernism
at the Art Institute of Chicago
since at least 1979
when AIC curators
wrote their own manifestos
about "new realism"
in the catalog of the
73rd Annual American Exhibition

As Malevich is quoted here :

"The sensations of sitting, standing, or running are, first and foremost, plastic sensations and they are responsible for the development of corresponding 61 objects of use and largely determine their form."

And now Chicago
has an example
of someone running
(or falling head over heels)

I find the piece
to be very exciting,
but not so enjoyable
when viewed close up
as it is in the above shot
that I took yesterday.

His edges
appear rather fuzzy and careless,
and not the kind
of fuzzy and careless
that makes them look any better.

More like slipshod.

Even if the design
in reproduction
could not be
any more dynamic and exciting.

And one might note
that the other avant garde paintings
from that era
in the same gallery
do not have that problem.

Marcel Janco, 1918

For example,
this one,
by one of the original
members of Dada
from the Cabaret Voltaire.

Was Malevich always that unconcerned
with the close-up view?

Did he intend his paintings
to symbolize his theories
more than stand alone
as aesthetic objects?

I suppose
one will have to visit
the Stedelijk Museum
to find out.

we have this one,
rather disappointing,
piece here in Chicago,
and I can't help but wonder
how far that $65,000,000
would have gone to bring in examples
of non-Modernist Russian painting.

(of which the museum
currently has ZERO )

When (or if) the museum
finally begins to survey
a wider variety of 19th-21st Century art,
it will have a much better claim
for being truly encyclopedic


Nikolai Suetin, 1925

BTW, as compared with Cubism, Futurism,
or any other modernist agenda,
the list of Suprematists is not very long.

But here's a nice coffee pot
designed by a student of Malevich.


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