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Malevich Retrospective a Big Hit at Tate Modern

Published: July 21, 2014 (Issue # 1820)



  • The Tate Modern exhibit is the first Malevich retrospective in 30 years and includes Malevich's 'Woman with Rake' from 1930-32 (detail).
    Photo: State Tretyakov Gallery / Tate Modern

  • A Malevich self-portrait from 1908-1910.
    Photo: State Tretyakov Gallery / Tate Modern

  • 'Supremus No. 55 1916,' is one of Malevich's Suprematist works on view at the Tate Modern in London.
    Photo: Krasnodar Territorial Art Museum / Tate Modern

A new museum show dedicated to avant-garde artist Kazimir Malevich at the Tate Modern in London has earned rave reviews from British press, with The Sunday Times calling it the exhibition of the year.

Malevich: Revolutionary of Russian Art is the first retrospective of the artist to be mounted in 30 years. It starts with his more traditional paintings in his youth, through his experiments with abstractionism and the suprematism that changed the art world and his later work under the shadow or state repression.

His most famous work, Black Square, is at the heart of the exhibit. The painting shocked the world when it was first revealed after months of secrecy in 1915. It later slipped into half a century of obscurity after it became an affront to the new Soviet states enmity toward avant-garde art.

The part devoted to his abstract work is as exhilarating as anything Ive seen this year, wrote Evening Standard critic Ben Luke.

Over the past 100 years, "Black Square" has lost none of its stark power and continues to baffle and bewilder viewers today as much as it did then, wrote curator Achim Borchardt-Hume.

Even after a century of abstract art nothing seems quite so radical as this dazzlingly simple form more parallelogram than square leaping into scarlet life out of pure white space, tilting eagerly forwards. The painting remains forever young, wrote Guardian critic Laura Cumming.

Born to a Polish family in 1879, Malevich grew up in Ukraine, studying drawing in Kiev before moving to Kursk and then Moscow in 1904. It was there that he became part of a group of artists, like Vladimir Tatlin, grappling with new art forms before and after the revolution.

Shunned by the state and accused of being a German spy, he used a small black square as his signature on his paintings, and made four versions of the painting between 1923 and 1929. If you want to see the original Black Square, however, then head to the New Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. Too fragile to be loaned out to even Russian museums, it never made it to the London show, which displays a later version of the work.

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The Tate Modern recreates the 1915 exhibition, The Last Exhibition of Futurist Painting 0.10, where Black Square was first exhibited. It was hung in the corner of the room, echoing the place of the icon in most Russian homes at the time and stating his revolutionary intent.

Visitors will be able to experience something of the amazement of walking into 0.10, which is being replicated as faithfully as possible, with the help of a single, precious archive picture of the original event, wrote The Independent critic Claudia Pritchard.

After his death, a version of Black Square was placed on his hearse and used in his tombstone, sadly later destroyed during World War II. An apartment block was built on his burial place last year and a monument to him nearby is inaccessible to most people.

The Tate has also organized a series of talks and guided tours around the exhibit in the next few months.

'Malevich: Revolutionary of Russian Art' runs till Oct 26. Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG. Tel. +44-20-7887-8888. tate.org.uk





 


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Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


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Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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