Russian Revolutionary Art of the 20th Century Opens Germany's Year of Russia

Organizers of an exhibition called "Suprematism," which opens in the Berlin branch of the Solomon Guggenheim Fund, promise the fullest and most detailed story about a revolutionary art trend of the 20th century that was discovered by the Russian genius Kazimir Malevich /1878-1935/. According to a source in the State Tretyakov Gallery, STG, the exposition features the works of Malevich and his followers, all of them taken from the collections of the STG, St. Petersburg's Russian Museum, and other museums of Russia, Western Europe and the USA.

The large-scale project, which has already been described as "epoch-making" and "sensational," opens Russia's Year in Germany.

According to STG researcher Svetlana Maslova, the decades-long interest the West feels towards Russia is particularly tangible when it comes to Russian avant-garde. The year 2003 can be called an anniversary of suprematism: according to specialists, Malevich painted his first "Black Square" in 1913, i.e. exactly 90 years ago. It was from Berlin that avant-garde began its triumphant march across Europe and the whole world.

Suprematism, an unprecedented style founded by Malevich and given a name derived from the Latin word "supremus," which means supreme, is very difficult to grasp. Having pronounced a transit towards completely new forms of world perception, the author of "Black Square" declared the new painting method a supreme manifestation of the artist's will. The language he devised was devoid of objects and subjects. Moreover, he strove to defy the laws of gravity so as to be able to lay down the principles of Universe with the help of a cosmic language. "The keys of suprematism lead me to the discovery of the unconscious," wrote Malevich in his manifest of suprematism. "My new method of painting does not belong to the Earth alone. Every person, every consciousness longs to break the bond that ties it to the terrestrial globe. Art strives towards an end in itself, towards creativity and domination over the forms of nature." The pioneers of avant-garde, Malevich, Tatlin, Kandinsky and Filonov, were recognized celebrities in their lifetime. With all the variegation of trends and groups that sprang up in Russia during the 1910s and the 1920s, they were apparent leaders who laid down the fundamental principles of abstract art and new metaphoric vision. It is no exaggeration to say each of them was a genius who happened to strike on a style that was unlike any other; together, they overturned the traditional conception of art, sculpture and architecture.

The "Russian explosion" thundered most audibly in 1915, when St. Petersburg hosted the first exhibition of Malevich's works, which included the painting of a plain black square against a white background-the painter's manifesto, a jump into the sphere of the objectless, a crucial event in the history of Russian and world art. "Black Square" was classified as a manifestation of the very essence of the new art and a guideline into the future.

Kazimir Malevich died in Leningrad /St. Petersburg/ in 1935. Even though he died in poverty, he was surrounded by pupils and admirers. The authorities of the Soviet Union refused to accept his art, arrested him and accused him of being "formalist". His paintings were banned in the USSR for thirty years. Even his grave was lost. It would be appropriate to mention here that today, Malevich is one of the world's most expensive artists, whose works cost millions of dollars and follow in the tracks of Van Gogh and Claude Monet.

Amidst the bustling activity of those years, which coincided with violent social changes in Russia, artists were full of revolutionary enthusiasm: they wanted to "jettison the rubble of old bourgeois art" from the "ship of the present day." In 1919, the author of "Black Square" moved from Petrograd to Vitebsk and immediately gathered around himself a circle of pupils he called The Strengtheners of New Art, or the UNOVIS. In the quiet provincial Vitebsk, the native town of Marc Chagall, was born the art of so-called architectonics-suprematic spatial objects that Malevich devised as a prototype of the architecture of the future. The echo of these discoveries is present in today's painting, design and architecture all over the world.

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