In December 1915, at the Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings 0.10 (zero-ten) in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg), Malevich unveiled a radically new mode of abstract painting that abandoned all reference to the outside world in favor of colored geometric shapes floating against white backgrounds. Because his new style claimed supremacy over the forms of nature, he called it “Suprematism.” In a leaflet distributed at the exhibition, Malevich wrote, “I transformed myself in the zero of form, I destroyed the ring of the horizon and escaped from the circle of things, from the horizon-ring that confines the artist and forms of nature.” All of the works on this wall were included in this landmark show. Since Suprematism rejected the deliberate illusions of representational painting, Malevich saw it as a form of realism—"new painterly realism" was his term—and understood its subject to be the basic components of painting’s language, such as color, line, and brushwork. The basic units of this visual vocabulary were planes, stretched, rotated, and overlapping. For Malevich, the white backgrounds against which they were set mapped the boundless space of the ideal.
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, Moscow and Petrograd/Leningrad. 1915 - 1927
Hugo Haering, Berlin, 1927 - 1930. Malevich took approximately seventy works, including this one, from Leningrad to Berlin in 1927, where the work was displayed at Große Berliner Austellung. Malevich left these paintings and drawings in the care of a Berlin Architect named Hugo Haering when he returned to Leningrad later in 1927. In 1930, Haering transferred the collection to the care of Alexander Dorner, director of the Provinzialmuseum in Hannover. Malevich never returned to Germany to collect the works, and died in Leningrad in 1935 without leaving instructions directing the disposition of his art.
Provinzialmuseum (later Landesmuseum), Hannover, 1930-1935. Dorner exhibited the pictures until the Nazis came to power in 1933, and then placed them in storage to save them from possible destruction. In 1935, Alfred Barr, acting on behalf of The Museum of Modern Art, bought two paintings and two drawings from Dorner, and borrowed other works.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. 1935 - present. The works remained on extended loan to The Museum of Modern Art until 1963, when they were acquired into the collection. The acquisition was confirmed in 1999 by agreement with Malevich's heirs and made possible with funds from the Mrs. John Hay Whitney Bequest (by exchange).
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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