Born in the Ukraine, Kazimir Malevich was a radical Russian painter famed for founding the Suprematist movement. Having begun his studies in 1904 at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, his early paintings were largely Post-Impressionist in style. However, he moved in an increasingly avant-garde direction after seeing the work of Mikhail Larionov and Wassily Kandinsky. Drawing on elements from Cubism, Expressionism and Futurism, he embraced abstraction and launched Suprematism in 1915. His goal was to ‘free art from the burden of the object’ through stark coloring and simple geometric shapes. His best known work, the Black Square (1915) has been described as the “most enigmatic and most frightening painting known to man”. Despite his early involvement with the Russian Revolution of 1917, abstraction quickly fell from favor with a regime that preferred Socialist Realism. He died in obscurity in 1935, but his spare and uncompromising pictures profoundly shaped the course of 20th century art.
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