Kazimir Malevich and the Russian Avant-garde
19 Oct 2013 - 2 Feb 2014
The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam presents Kazimir Malevich and the Russian Avant-Garde, with selections from the Khardzhiev and Costakis collections, the largest survey in twenty years devoted to the work of the Russian avant-garde pioneer Kazimir Malevich (1879–1935).
The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam holds the largest collection of Malevich’s work outside of Russia, which was the subject of a large-scale exhibition at the museum in 1989. Kazimir Malevich and the Russian Avant-Garde is a tribute to the artist and his contemporaries, as well as the culmination of 2013 as the year celebrating Dutch–Russian relations in the Netherlands.
The exhibition is co-produced with Tate Modern, London, and the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundeskunsthalle), Bonn, where it will travel in 2014. Each venue explores Malevich’s rich career from distinctive vantage points, focusing on different aspects of the artist’s remarkable career, including the context in which he formed his unique language, the radicality of his artistic trajectory, and his later return to landscapes and figures. Seen in their totality, these exhibitions thus provide the unprecedented opportunity to reassess one of the defining figures of twentieth-century modernism.
Organized by Stedelijk Museum curators Geurt Imanse and Bart Rutten, the Stedelijk’s presentation of more than 500 works places Malevich within the context of his contemporaries.
Not only an artist, he was an influential teacher and a passionate advocate of the “new” art. The show is a tribute to the Russian avant- garde of the early 20th century, with Malevich as its focal point. Although best known for his purely abstract work, he was inspired by diverse art movements of his day, including Impressionism, Symbolism, Fauvism, and Cubism; his own visual language was also influenced by Russian icon painting and folk art. Through oil paintings, gouaches, drawings, and sculptures, the exhibition traces the rich variety of his oeuvre. All the phases in Malevich’s career will be on view, from his Impressionist period to his iconic Suprematist phase—his Black Square was its most radical consequence—to the lesser-known figurative works that followed.
Collections Khardzhiev and Costakis
Kazimir Malevich and the Russian Avant-Garde will unite the exceptional collections of Nikolai Khardzhiev (via the Khardzhiev Foundation under the stewardship of the Stedelijk) and Georges Costakis (housed by the State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki) for the first time. Pioneering Russian collectors of the Russian avant-garde, Khardzhiev and Costakis assembled considerable holdings of works during a time when abstract art was forbidden in the Soviet Union.
Works on paper
Works on paper offer vital insights into Malevich’s artistic development. Recent research—in which the Stedelijk Museum played an important role—reveals that it is in his drawings that we can follow his artistic quest in the best possible way. Never before have so many Malevich works on paper— mostly from the Khardzhiev Collection—been on public display together.
The exhibition celebrates a number of milestones. It was precisely one hundred years ago that the experimental Cubo-Futurist opera Victory over the Sun (1913) was performed, for which Malevich designed radical, non-realistic sets and costumes. The opera was a turning point in the artist’s career, marking his first experiments with total abstraction. Moreover, it has been ninety years since the first major exhibition of Russian nineteenth- and twentieth- century art—the first Russian Art Show, including work by Malevich—was on view at the Stedelijk Museum; the Stedelijk was the first museum to present Malevich’s Suprematism outside of Russia. In addition, Kazimir Malevich and the Russian Avant-Garde is the artistic culmination of 2013, a year celebrating Dutch– Russian relations.
Artists in the Exhibition
Marc Chagall, Ilia Chashnik, Boris Ender, Ksenia Ender, Maria Ender, Yurii Ender, Natalia Goncharova, Wassily Kandinsky, Ivan Kyun, Mikhail Larionov, El Lissitzky, Kazimir Malevich, Mikhail Matyushin, Mikhail Menkov, Vera Pestel, Lyubov Popova, Ivan Puni, Alexander Rodchenko, Olga Rozanova, Nikolai Suetin, Vladimir Tatlin and Nadezhda Udaltsova.
In conjunction with the Khardzhiev Foundation, the Stedelijk will publish the first comprehensive catalogue of the Khardzhiev Collection, based on extensive research by Geurt Imanse and Frank van Lamoen (ca. 512 pp., nai010 publishers, € 49.50, design: Beukers/Scholma). A catalogue of the exhibition will also be available (256 pp., Walther König Verlag, € 29.80, design: Mevis & Van Deursen).
The exhibition is accompanied by a public program that will present lectures, discussion evenings, an interpretation of the opera Victory over the Sun, and other events. The catalogue of the Khardzhiev Collection will be presented during an afternoon symposium on the importance of such valued private collections and the issues that arise when such collections are moved abroad. In collaboration with EYE Film Institute, the Stedelijk also presents a curated film program of famous and lesser- known avant-garde films that have a special connection with Malevich.
An extensive education component has been developed around the exhibition. It offers activities for schools as well as individual visitors, both children and adults. In the specially furnished Family Lab, families and children can make their own life-size Suprematist compositions with colored shapes on magnetic walls and have their photo taken. Visitors can also draw and write their own Malevich-inspired postcards and watch videos about the artist. The Blikopeners (young peer- educators that work for the museum) will also organize a range of activities.
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
October 19, 2013 – February 2, 2014
March 11 – June 22, 2014
Tate Modern, London
July 17 – October 26, 2014
The exhibition Kazimir Malevich and the Russian Avant-Garde is made possible with the generous support of principal benefactor Gieskes-Strijbis Fonds, the Blockbusterfonds, and additional support from the Amsterdam Trade Bank, AON Corporate Solutions, the Cultural Heritage Agency, the Mondriaan Fund, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, K.F. Hein Fonds and the Wilhelmina E. Jansen Fonds.
The exhibition has been supported by the Dutch government: an indemnity grant has been provided by the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands on behalf of the Minister of Education, Culture and Science and the Minister of Finance.
The Stedelijk Museum would like to express its sincere thanks to principal sponsor Rabobank Amsterdam for making this exhibition possible in Amsterdam.