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On view  |  Painting and Sculpture I, Gallery 14, Floor 5

Kazimir Malevich. Painterly Realism of a Boy with a Knapsack - Color Masses in the Fourth Dimension. 1915

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Kazimir Malevich (Russian, born Ukraine. 1878–1935)

Painterly Realism of a Boy with a Knapsack - Color Masses in the Fourth Dimension

Oil on canvas
28 x 17 1/2" (71.1 x 44.5 cm)
Credit Line:
1935 Acquisition confirmed in 1999 by agreement with the Estate of Kazimir Malevich and made possible with funds from the Mrs. John Hay Whitney Bequest (by exchange)
MoMA Number:
Audio Program excerpt

Inventing Abstraction, 1910–1925

, December 23, 2012–April 15, 2013

Curator, Ann Temkin: Suprematism, the system of art-making founded by Kazimir Malevich, debuted in 1915 at The Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings 0,10 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The 10 in the title refers to the number of artists originally slated for the exhibition.

Curator, Leah Dickerman: Zero was a key image for the artist, who thought about taking everything back to nothing, and then beginning over again. He insisted that we will go beyond zero and explore new types of meaning that could not be achieved through conventional forms of representation.

Ann Temkin: In one room of the exhibition, Malevich created a display of his newest work, stacked from low to high. And in one corner, in the place where traditional icons or an image of the Virgin usually hung in peasant homes, he placed a black square.

Leah Dickerman: The pictures were radically new, the background was no longer a background in any traditional sense of the word. It was an expanse of white. And on this white field were colored geometric forms that were no longer tied in any way to representation in the world. It was perhaps the most resolute rejection of subject matter yet seen.

Abstract pictures were rarely seen in isolation. But rather they were accompanied by manifestos, by explanatory lectures, by criticism, by books. Malevich issued two publications at the time of the exhibition, a catalog and a handout. This may be one of the most far-reaching legacies of abstraction, that dual channel in which words and images are held together and circulate in relationship to each other.

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