Although The Black Square by Kiev-born artist Kazimir Malevich is considered a centrepiece of Russian modern art, it is also one of the most controversial. For some viewers, it seems like a painting that a four-year-old could have done with a ruler. Perhaps rightly so, but in truth, there is so much more behind the dark surface of the painting that can be best understood with some background knowledge.
The artist, Kazimir Malevich, was constantly searching for the right form of artistic expression, moving through various modern art movements ranging from Impressionism to Cubism. Eventually, Malevich became a part of the Futurist movement that was thriving in Russia at the start of the 20th century. Artists, poets and musicians were rejecting the past – all the established systems in the Western world. They felt that their country was on the brink of revolution, a complete change of social regime. Like his Futurist colleagues, Malevich stopped seeking answers from the past; instead, he denied it all and came up with a new artistic system.
In 1915, Malevich begins work on the first Black Square painting, and in the next ten years completes another three variants of the painting. The work was first presented in 1915 at the Last Futuristic Exhibition of Paintings 0,10, where Malevich’s Square hung in the corner of the room, similar to a Russian icon. Malevich announced that this new style of painting was to be called Suprematism and was to be ruled by simple geometric forms. The visual depiction of an object was not considered important, it was the artistic feeling that was supreme.
Although Malevich and some of his students were the only followers of the Suprematism movements, The Black Square became iconic. There is no exact interpretation of what it really stands for. Some say it was a symbolic end to all art before it and ‘ground zero’ for the new movements to come. Some call it a revolutionary symbol, foreshadowing the 1917 socialist revolution in Russia. Whichever it may be, The Black Square retains its place at the centre of Russia’s modern art history.
There are four versions of The Black Square that were completed by Malevich, all housed in Russia. The first one dated to 1915 can be seen at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. The 1923 version can be found in The Russian Museum of St Petersburg. The 1929 version is in the New Tretyakov Gallery also in Moscow. The final version dated the late 1920s–early 1930s is displayed at the State Hermitage Museum of St Petersburg.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.