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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 state’s enmity toward avant-garde art.

The part devoted to his abstract work “is as exhilarating as anything I’ve 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





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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