Aleksandr Rodchenko. Non-Objective Painting no. 80 (Black on Black). 1918
Aleksandr Rodchenko

Non-Objective Painting no. 80 (Black on Black)

1918
On view
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
32 1/4 x 31 1/4" (81.9 x 79.4 cm)
Credit
Gift of the artist, through Jay Leyda
Object number
114.1936
Department
Painting and Sculpture

This work belongs to a series of eight black paintings Rodchenko made in direct response to a group of white paintings of the same year by the older and more established artist Kazimir Malevich. Malevich relied on a severely reduced palette of whites to suggest a floating form in an infinite spatial expanse; Rodchenko moved toward eliminating color completely in order to focus instead on the material quality of the paintings surface. "Where the black works are winning is in the fact that they have no color, they are strong through painting . . . ," declared artist Varvara Stepanova, Rodchenko's wife. "Nothing besides painting exists." Both series were first shown in Moscow in April 1919, in the 10th State Exhibition: Non-Objective Art and Suprematism. The black works were received with enthusiasm and helped establish Rodchenko as a leader of the Russian avant-garde.

Gallery label from 2015

Additional text

Rodchenko made the Black on Black series, of which this work is part, in direct response to the White on White paintings that Kazimir Malevich had made earlier in 1918. Both groups were shown at the Tenth State Exhibition of Nonobjective Creation and Suprematism in Moscow the following year. With this gesture Rodchenko took an oedipal swipe at the more established artist and directly challenged the fundamental principles of Suprematism: if for Malevich the white in his paintings connoted the infinite expanse of the ideal, Rodchenko used black, in a variety of textures and finishes, to ground painting in its physical properties, bringing attention to the material quality of its surface. In contrast to the tilting plane of Malevich's White on White painting, the arcing forms of Rochenko's canvas suggest dynamic motion.

Gallery label from Inventing Abstraction, 1910–1925, December 23, 2012–April 15, 2013

Provenance Research Project
This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
The artist. 1918 – 1936
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist, 1936

If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please e-mail provenance@moma.org or write to:

Provenance Research Project
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019

Pictured above: Vasily Kandinsky. Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 2 (detail). 1914. Oil on canvas, 64 1/8 x 48 3/8" (162.6 x 122.7 cm). Nelson A. Rockefeller Fund (by exchange). © 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

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Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource