Kazimir Malevich’s ‘Black Square,’ Version 1

THE DAILY PIC: The Russian's minimal masterworks had maximalist roots.


Separated at birth: This 1908 painting, titled Shroud of Christ, and the iconic (literally) 1915 Black Square, both by Kazimir Malevich and included in his stunning survey at Tate Modern in London. (I almost skipped the show, thinking I already knew enough about its subject. I was very wrong.)

I realize the two pictures in question look utterly different. But one of the revelations offered by the Tate show is that the sheer force of imagination and innovation that’s so clear in Malevich at his mature best is also there from the very beginning, as with few other artists. His very earliest “derivations” from modern French art manage to out-Monet Monet and out-Vuillard Vuillard. Then, when Malevich starts using Russian folk art and religious pictures to push himself in new directions, as in today’s Daily Pic, he really starts getting somewhere. It’s the utter idiosyncrasy of his Shroud that I see repeated seven years later in its unidentical twin. (© State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow)

For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

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