Kazimir Severinovich Malevich (23 February 1878 – 15 May 1935) was a painter, art theoretician, pioneer of geometric abstract art and one of the most important members of the Russian avant-garde. He was also the founder of the art movement Suprematism.
Suprematism is an art movement founded by Malevich in Russia which focused on geometrical abstraction that evokes emotion and contemplation. Malevich himself describes this revolutionary art movement as “the supremacy of pure feeling in creative art.”
When, in the year 1913, in my desperate attempt to free art from the ballast of objectivity, I took refuge in the square form and exhibited a picture which consisted of nothing more than a black square on a white field. The critics and, along with them, the public sighed, “Everything which we loved was lost. We are in a desert…Before us is nothing but a black square on a white background!”
Malevich’s earlier work showed great influence of cubism and futurism.
When Stalinism took hold in the Soviet Union from 1924 on, the Stalinist regime began limiting the freedom of artists and prohibited abstraction and divergence of any artistic expression. This of course led to the confiscation of many of Malevich’s work, and he was banned from creating and exhibiting similar art. Malevich nevertheless retained his main conception. In his self-portrait of 1933 he represented himself in a traditional way — the only way permitted by Stalinist cultural policy — but signed the picture with a tiny black-over-white square.