Kazimir Malevich is a Russian painter from the 20th century who was at the forefront of abstract art as it appeared for the first time across Europe. The Soviet Union produced many key contemporary artists during this period despite the culture of the ruling party being relatively traditional in thinking. Some of these Russian modern artists were forced to leave the country and ply their trades in Western Europe or the United States in order to enjoy better opportunities for their careers.
Kazimir Malevich was part of the Suprematism movement which formed a collection of artists involved with in the overall umbrella of abstract art. Black Cross and White on White were two of the better known abstract works from the artist and also amongst his most abstract of all, working down to exceptionally minimal shapes and also colours. There are other paintings, included with in this website, which are less minimal and these may suit different tastes, such as Red House, Three Figures and Englishman in Moscow.
Kazimir Malevich originals have been sold in recent years for some extraordinary prices, up to $60m dollars, driven partly by the excitement for abstract art generally but also with the amount of money floating around some parts of Russian society who are looking to retain the key cultural elements of their history. Strictly, of course, Malevich would be classed as Ukranian by today's borders, and that explains partly how the Soviet Union contributed so many significant artists from the 20th century, even though many had to leave the country to make the most of their skills.
Kazimir Malevich created Black Cross and this was a shockingly abstract piece which was always likely to cause controversy when it was first completed. Abstract works often require an understanding from the artist as to what it represents in order to appreciate the piece where as more traditional art is often much more immediate.
There are similarities between Malevich paintings and those of other Geometric artists such as Piet Mondrian who came from the Netherlands and also chose an abstract path. He did not quite reach the same levels of abstraction, though, and relied on a greater use of colour than say Malevich had done in his Black Cross work.
Kandinsky was another abstract painter who used geometric shapes to form his compositions but went again for far much more detail as well as a greater variety in the shapes and colours used. Kandinsky himself also came from Russia and so the path he took through his career was very similar to that of Malevich.
Whilst this artist came during the early stages of the rise of abstract and modern art, there were many more variations which followed across the 20th century and many more continue to appear all the time. Cubism was one of the significant movements to appear and was contributed to by Juan Gris and Pablo Picasso.