In this post, I want to tell you about a type of art that we have come across once or several times in a museum, and if we know very little or almost nothing about art, the first thing that comes to mind is I can do it or even worse, a five-year-old could have done that. Why is it exhibited in a museum? I feel that it is shocking to see such works but at the same time, they are difficult to forget because we simply do not understand them.

To understand a work you first have to see when the work was done and what was happening at that time. Especially for certain movements like Dada, Suprematism, Gutai, etc. In this case, we will travel through time since this work was created in Russia in 1915 two years before the Russian revolution will break out. The author of this work is Kazimir Malevich, born in Kiev, Ukraine, and moved to Moscow at an early age to study art. There he learned several styles: Impressionism, Symbolism, Fauvism, Futurism, and Cubism until he finally created his own style: Suprematism. If we see Malevich's works we see how his painting evolves, going through the aforementioned styles until reaching a pure art.

Suprematism is total abstraction, it is based solely on color and geometry leaving aside the figurative. Many asked Malevich "why are your paintings empty? To which he responds they are not, they are full of absence." And a perfect example of this "void" is the "Black Square" that I am going to tell you about today. This painting has marked the history of modern art. Malevich paints a black square, and you wonder why a square? if we look at nature the lines do not exist. He thought that the line, as well as religion, have been invented by man. Let us remember that Malevich is a communist and does not believe in God. If you look at the image of the "Black Square" you can see that it is hanging in a corner something unusual if you go to a museum no painting hangs that way. So why did Malevich display his painting like this? The corners were reserved for religious images and he just put his picture there. In my opinion, it was his way of saying that religion is an invention of man and that it would now be replaced by pure art. In the Suprematism manifesto, there is a passage where Malevich affirms "Art no longer wants to be at the service of religion or the state; it does not want to continue illustrating the history of customs ..."

Most historians consider this work of art to be the beginning of pure abstraction. It is based on the geometric figure, line, and color are the only values of art. In this case, Malevich uses black as the absence of color, and white is the sum of all colors. Regarding the square at that time, it was not so common to use a square, in the paintings, it was common to find triangles or circles. If we look at the chart we see that everything is balanced, the canvas is 80x80cm square, the black square in the center is a composition with balance. The white background ends up framing the black square in some way. "It is the end of art and the beginning, it does not mean anything but it has the potential to mean everything."

As a fun fact, I am going to tell you that this painting was tested with x-rays to mark the centenary of the creation of this piece. Another cubist / futuristic painting was found to be under the black square. This shows that the artist did not do the work keeping in mind what he was going to do, but instead worked on the composition until he reached what we know today as the "Black Square." And the other thing they discovered was that in the footer Malevich titled the work "Two blacks fighting in a cave", which supposes that Malevich had contact with a group of artists in Paris known as Les Incohérents, since Alphonse Allais member of this group, had already exhibited a black box with a white background with the title "Combat de nègres dans un cave, pendant la nuit" translates as "Black fight in a cellar, at night."


If you are interested in learning more about Malevich and other Russian artists of that time, I highly recommend that you watch the documentary, I left the link below sources. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this painting, Malevich or what you feel like when you encounter paintings like this in a museum. 


¿Qué increíble cuadro dio origen al movimiento del 'Suprematismo'?

El Arte Supremo de Malevich

Revolución: Un nuevo Arte para un nuevo mundo - documental

Retrospectiva de Malevich

Lo que esconde el cuadrado negro

Las aventuras del cuadrado negro

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