Kazimir Malevich Suprematizm. 34 risunka (Suprematism: 34 Drawings) 1920

  • Not on view

This book is essentially a theoretical and visual textbook of Suprematism, an abstract style based on simple geometric shapes against a white background that Malevich pioneered in 1915. These reductive geometries seem to be the product of extremely rational thinking, but Malevich’s writings confirm that ultimately he was seeking a strong spiritual feeling. Describing a painting he had made of a black square, he said, "The square equals feeling, the white background equals nothingness."

Gallery label from Geo/Metric: Prints and Drawings from the Collection, June 11–August 18, 2008.
Additional text

A member of the Russian Futurist group active in the early teens, Kazimir Malevich participated in numerous exhibitions, contributed to artists manifestos, designed theater sets and costumes, and collaborated with other artists, including Natalia Goncharova and Olga Rozanova, on the design and illustration of lithographed books. Between 1913 and 1930, he made more than eighty editioned works, many intended for book projects and primarily executed in lithography. Malevich's early style drew on a variety of native sources, including the lubok (inexpensive, popular prints), folk images and icons, as well as the Western European movements of Cubism and Futurism. In 1915 he exhibited the first works of Suprematism, an abstract style of painting that he pioneered, comprised of colored geometric forms on white backgrounds.

As a supporter of the 1917 Revolution, Malevich sought ways to integrate art with utilitarian forms and practical functions through his group UNOVIS (Affirmers of the New Art). His Suprematist designs were used in applied-arts projects, and even in decorations for the streets of Vitebsk. In 1918 his design for the program of an important state-sponsored conference on peasant poverty, held on the first anniversary of the October Revolution, won first prize. Malevich's Suprematist cover for the publication declares: "Proletarians of all Nations, Unite!"

In 1920, while Director of the Vitebsk Art Institute, Malevich created Suprematism: 34 Drawings, which essentially served as a theoretical and visual textbook of Suprematism. In addition to a hand-lettered introduction, the book contains lithographs that comprise a visual survey of basic geometric elements and ways in which they could be combined. It is thought that the printing was executed by El Lissitzky, who had earlier been appointed by Marc Chagall to head the Institute's lithography workshop.

Publication excerpt from an essay by Sarah Suzuki, in Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004.
Kazimir Malevich
Book with thirty-five lithographed illustrations (including cover) and lithographed manuscript text
page (each): 8 9/16 x 7 1/16" (21.8 x 18 cm)
UNOVIS, Vitebsk
probably El Lissitzky, Vitebsk
approx. 100
Gift of The Judith Rothschild Foundation
Object number
Drawings and Prints

Installation views

We have identified these works in the following photos from our exhibition history.

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit https://www.moma.org/research/circulating-film.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].