Kazimir Malevich (1878-1935)
Malevich was a Russian painter and designer who was born near Kiev in 1878. Trained at the Kiev School of Art and Moscow Academy of Fine Arts, he was attracted to abstract geometric patterns. In 1913, he developed his personal style, Suprematism, which led the way to the Suprematism movement. Kazimir also taught painting at Moscow and Leningrad from 1919-1921.
After the Russian Revolution, "Malevich became aware of the political significance of his art, drawing a parallel between the social and economic innovations of Communism and the new painting, free of academic rules and attentive to the development of modern technologies" (Cork).
Private of the First Division, 1914, is one of Malevich's first attempts to convey the war in his Suprematic style. Although this picture is abstract, one can easily infer the symbolism within it. A thermometer is the main component within the painting. "It immediately introduces the idea, not only of temperature but also of illness: war fever could easily lead to an overheating mentality "(Cork, 51). The Soldiers eyes and mouth within the painting have been replaced by a military cross and the number eight. This suggests that the soldier has been drawn into the military tide and its ideas.
Although Malevich opposed the war, he was caught up in the Russian war drives and could not resist government demands for war propaganda. In 1914, he prepared two lithographs: The French Allies, and What a Boom! What a Blast! Mikhail Matyushin commented, "they are straight from the people, and if the words are on the coarse side, no need to worry, because that is how the people are-they have a different aesthetic sense." (Cork)
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