Malewicz: Beyond Censorship

Malewicz: Beyond Censorship

Fig. 28: Suprematist works shown at the 0,10 exhibition in 1915, gelatin silver print. Nakov Archives, Paris.

Malewicz: Beyond Censorship

Andréi Nakov

Erased from the cultural scene for decades – even during his lifetime – Kazimir Malewicz’s (1879–1935) oeuvre was only rediscovered in the West in the late 1950s. Three more decades passed before it could be accessible to the Russian public. It was gradually assimilated through a series of interpretative filters – aesthetic, political, cultural and others – but the extraordinary potential of the artist’s work has been hampered by fantastical elucidations, several of which persist to this day.

A number of foundational myths about the artist’s ethnic background (his relationship to his mother tongue), his rapport to the religious culture of his Russian environment and, chiefly, his place in modern European art to which he was deeply attached, are considered here. Our reading of Suprematist forms is still an essential aspect of his art: beyond his numerous writings it shapes a decisive understanding of his artistic message.

The aim of Malewicz: Beyond Censorship is to question a certain number of anti-modernist visual and cultural prejudices. Advancing ever further in his interpretation of the artist’s oeuvre, Andréi Nakov uncovers hidden layers of a creative production that shows itself to be increasingly important to our comprehension of 20th-century modernity.

Fig. 43: Cubo-Futurist composition with piano, autumn 1913, oil on canvas, 39.5 × 31.3 cm, Khardzhiev-Chaga Cultural Foundation, Amsterdam (on deposit at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam).
Fig. 37a: Lady at an Advertising Column, 1914 (Cat. F-455), oil and papier collé on canvas, 71 × 64 cm, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
Fig. 49: Through Station Kuntsevo, 1914 (Cat. F-421), oil on wood panel, 49 × 25.5 cm, Tretyakov State Gallery, Moscow.
Fig. 33a: Self-Portrait in 2 Dimensions, 1915 (Cat. S-21), oil on canvas, 80 × 62 cm, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
Fig. 63: Pictorial Realism of a Peasant Woman in Two Dimensions, otherwise known as Red Square, 1915 (Cat. S-126, first version), oil on canvas, 40.2 × 30.1 cm, private collection, on deposit at the Musée des Beaux Arts, Liège.
Fig. 50: (Suprematism), 1916 (Cat. S-420), oil on canvas, 74 × 76 cm, Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts.
Fig. 64: Red Square 2, 1916–1917 (Cat. S-127, second version), oil on canvas, 53.1 × 53 cm, State Museum of Russia, St. Petersburg.
Fig. 34: Aviator, 1914 (Cat. F-444), oil on canvas, 125 × 65 cm, State Museum of Russia, St. Petersburg.


In addition to the 2002 Malewicz’s Catalogue raisonnéAndréi Nakov is the author of numerous works on the artist, including his monumental four-volume monograph Malevich, Painting the Absolute published in English in 2010, not to mention a number of other works written in French and translated into English, Russian, Italian and other languages. Recently Nakov has published studies on Wassily Kandinsky (Kandinsky, the Enigma of the First Abstract Painting, 2015) and Vladimir Tatlin (Tatlin’s Reliefs: From Cubism to Abstraction, 2020) with the IRSA Institute in Cracow, Poland, as well as several essays on Polish art since 1945. The latest of the numerous museum shows he curated was The Advent of AbstractionRussia, 1914–1923 at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, in 2017 (catalogue issued by 5 Continents Editions, Milan, Italy).

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