"...to liberate art from the ballast of the representational world..."
Beginning of the 20th century brought with it a number of revolutionary theories. Scientific breakthroughs opened people’s eyes to new ways of looking at the world. On the macro-scale, Victor Hess discovered cosmic radiation and Albert Einstein published his theory of relativity, meanwhile Sir E. Rutherford’s atomic model and Niels Bohr’s atomic theory were making huge changes on the micro-scale. In the midst of all this, Sigmund Freud expanded the world’s understanding of the human mind with his psychological theories. World War I redefined people’s idea of warfare and political involvement. Furthermore, the Russian Revolution was stirring up, and social ideas such as communism were becoming increasingly popular.
With all these changes occurring, it isn’t very surprising that the world of art had a revolution of its own. Fueled by all these novelties, especially Sigmund Freud’s theories, artists, writers, and poets began to look more deeply into the mind and the abstract. As a result, two major movements began to emerge: Suprematism and Constructivism. Both were very abstract movements and were believed to have been inspired by Cubism. The major distinction between the two was the fact that Constructivism distorted realism, while Suprematism aimed to completely detach itself from reality and concentrate solely on the non-objective.
Suprematism was first envisioned by Kasimir Malevich, a Russian artist and designer, in 1913. In 1915, Suprematism was displayed to the public for the very first time, in a manifesto and exhibition titled 0.10 The Last Futurist Exhibition, in Petrograd. The exhibition, organized by Malevich, featured many different art pieces based on geometric shapes and having no resemblance to the real world. To Malevich, the purest form was the square, while all other elements were rectangles, circles, triangles, and the cross, so the centerpiece of this exhibition was a painting titled Black Square.
Malevich carefully constructed his paintings with the focus centering on the visual qualities of shape and space and did not constrain them by real world objectivity. Through dynamic purity and aesthetic creativity, he enchanted his paintings and enabled them to stir emotions and promote contemplation, while defying all perspective and traditional painting techniques.
Kasimir Malevich, along with his students and colleagues, designed paintings, typography, and architectural structures in the Suprematist style, and even went as far as creating ideas for buildings and satellite towns, which, due to their impartibility, were never realized.
Several of Malevich’s students became famous Soviet artists, though only Nikolai Suetin continued with the Suprematist style and refined Malevich’s concepts into a practical system of design. He then used his new methods and techniques to create practical architecture, furniture, books, and ceramics.
As Suprematism matured and became more popular, more and more artists began using it as means of expression. Some of the artists that took part in this movement were:
Although initially Malevich’s idea of Suprematism was destined to be a short-lived movement due to its rigid parameters and it limited creative potential, Suprematism ended up having a great impact on the world of art and encouraged the uprising of many distinct styles that make up modern art.