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 Kasimir (Kazimir) Severinovich Malevich  (1878 - 1935)

/ mal-YAY-vich/


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Lived/Active: Russian Federation      Known for: suprematism

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BIOGRAPHY for Kasimir (Kazimir) Malevich
1878 (Kiev, Russia)
1935 (Leningrad, Russia)

Russian Federation

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Kasimir Malevich was born in Kiev, (part of Russia at the time) in 1878. He was the earliest and one of the most influential forces in the development of modern art. Working in Moscow in the early years of the 20th century, he was the first major artist to paint in a pure non-objective style without reference to material subject matter; the movement was called Suprematism and was launched in 1913 with a famous painting of a black square on a white ground. This was a monumental achievement, becoming a driving force behind abstract and non-objective art movements.

Eventually he moved away from absolute austerity, tilting rectangles from the vertical, adding more colors and introducing a suggestion of the third dimension and even a degree of painterly handling. He turned to teaching, writing and making three-dimensional models that were important in the growth of Constructivism. In 1919 he started teaching at the art school at Vitabsk and in 1922 he moved to Leningrad where he lived the rest of his life. He grew out of favor with the political system and the Soviets soon restricted his work and he wound up painting pottery for a living.

In 1999 the Museum of Modern Art reached an unusual legal agreement with thirty-one of Malevich's heirs. For the past six years they have been trying to retrieve a group of works by the artist that have been on view at the Museum of Modern Art since 1935 and that they feel rightfully belongs to them. The saga began in 1927 when Malevich was granted his first and only visa to travel abroad for an exhibition of his work. He brought approximately one hundred pieces, including seventy paintings to Berlin. Before his visa had expired Malevich was called back to the Soviet Union. He hoped to return to Berlin, but did not have the opportunity to do so before he died at the age of fifty-seven. He died in Leningrad on May 15, 1935 in the arms of his daughter.

Written and submitted by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Sources include:
The Oxford Dictionary of Art, Oxford University Press, 1988, edited by Jan Chilvers, Harold Osborne and consulting editor, Dennis Farr
Art in America, October 1999
Malevich The Tangled Legacy by Akinsha and Kozlov in ARTnews, December 1992

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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