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 2015