Aphorisms

Kazimir Malevich’s aphorisms are known to be revolutionary and innovating, while he himself is sometimes considered one the most daring figures of 20th century art. Most of his aphorisms and quotations, especially ones that are regarding Suprematism, are enigmatic and even metaphysical.

On this page you will find a certain number of these aphorisms. Most of them are dealing with Suprematism and its differences with preceding art styles and movements, but there are also thoughts on art and its philosophy in general. Some of these aphorisms are really rare.



There is movement and movement. There are movements of small tension and movements of great tension and there is also a movement which our eyes cannot catch although it can be felt. In art this state is called dynamic movement. This special movement was discovered by the futurists as a new and hitherto unknown phenomenon in art, a phenomenon which some Futurists were delighted to reflect.

- «Cubofuturism», Malevich, in “Essays on Art”, op. cit., vol 2


The principal element of Suprematism in painting, as in architecture, is its liberation from all social or materialist tendencies. Through Suprematism, art comes into its pure and unpolluted form. It has acknowledged the decisive fact of the nonobjective character of sensibility. It is no longer concerned with illusion.

- «Marc Chagall, – a Biography», by Sidney Alexander, Cassell, London, 1978, p. 194


With the most primitive means the artist creates something which the most ingenious and efficient technology will never be able to create.

Kazimir Malevich 


Man’s skull represents the same infinity for the movement of conceptions. It is equal to the universe, for in it is contained all that sees in it. Likewise the sun and whole starry sky of comets and the sun pass in it and shine and move as in nature. Is not the whole universe that strange skull in which meteors, suns, comets and planets rush endlessly?

- “God is not cast down”, Malevich, 1922; 


Color is the essence of painting, which the subject always killed.

Kazimir Malevich 


Dynamism is also the forming formula for Futurists works; i.e. dynamism is the additional element that transforms the perception of one state of phenomena to another, for example, from a static to a dynamic perception.

- «Cubofuturism», Malevich, in “Essays on Art”, op. cit., vol 2


[addressed to his students] I recommend that you should work actively at the Hermitage and study the artistic structures of Rubens, Rembrandt Titian, Watteau, Poussin, and other painters, even Chardin, where he is an artist. Study very closely their dabbing manner of execution and try to copy a small piece of canvas, just one square inch.

letter to one his students, written in Summer 1924


At the present time man’s path lies through space, and Suprematism is a colour metaphor in its infinite abyss.

- «On space and Suprematism» article by Malevich


By Suprematism, I mean the supremacy of pure feeling in the pictorial arts. From the suprematist point of view, the appearances of natural objects are in themselves meaningless; the essential thing is feeling – in itself and completely independent of the context in which it has been evoked. Academic naturalism, the naturalism of the impressionists, of Cézannism, of Cubism, are all so to speak nothing but dialectic methods, which in themselves in no way determine the true value of the work of art.

- in «Artists on Art – from the 14th – 20th centuries», ed. by Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves; Pantheon Books, 1972, London, p. 452


In 1913, trying desperately to liberate art from the ballast of the representational world, I sought refuge in the form of the square.

- Kazimir Malevich in 1927


I too was filled with a sort of shyness and fear, as I was called to leave «the world of will and idea» in which I had lived and created, and in whose reality I had believed. But the happy liberating touch of non-objectivity drew me out into the «desert» where only feeling is real. And so feeling became the content of my life. It was no «empty square» I had exhibited but the feeling of non-objectivity. I perceived that the «thing» and the «idea» were taken to be equivalents of feeling, and understood the lie of the world of will and idea. Is the milk bottle the symbol of milk? Suprematism is the rediscovery of that pure art which in the course of time, and by an accretion of «things», had been lost to sight.

- in «Artists on Art – from the 14th – 20th centuries», ed. by Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves; Pantheon Books, 1972, London, p. 452


Everywhere there is craft and technique, everywhere there is artistry and form. Art itself, technique, is ponderous and clumsy, and because of it awkwardness it obstructs that inner element… All craft, technique, and artistry, like anything beautiful, results in futility and vulgarity.

- «On poetry», article by Malevich


Only when the habit of one’s consciousness to see in paintings bits of nature, madonnas and shameless nudes, has disappeared, shall we see a pure painting composition. I have transformed myself into the nullity of forms and pulled myself out of the circle of things, out of the circle-horizon in which the artist and forms of nature are locked.

- «Marc Chagall, – a Biography», by Sidney Alexander, Cassell, London, 1978, p. 178


Matiushin’s [composer of the futurist opera: "Victory over the Sun"] sound shattered the object-word. The curtain was torn, by the same token tearing the scream of consciousness of the old brain.

- «Theatre’», article by Malevich


Only dull and impotent artists screen their work with sincerity. In art there is need for truth, not sincerity.

Kazimir Malevich


The rectangular picture-plane indicates the starting point of Suprematism; a new realism of color conceived as non-objective creation. The forms of suprematist art live like all the living forms of nature. This is a new plastic realism, plastic precisely because the realism of hills, sky and water is missing. Every real form is a world. And any plastic surface is more alive than a (drawn or painted) face from which stares a pair of eyes and a smile.

- in «Artists on Art – from the 14th – 20th centuries», ed. by Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves; Pantheon Books, 1972, London, p. 452


We have rejected reason because we have found another reason that could be called transrational, which has its own law, construction and sense. This reason has found a way-Cubism-of expressing the object.

- a letter to the composer Matushin, June 1913


I have established the semaphore of Suprematism. I have beaten the lining of the colored sky, torn it away and in the sack that formed itself, I have put color and knotted it. Swim! The free white sea, infinity, lies before you.

Kazimir Malevich


I have broken the blue boundary of color limits, come out into the white; beside me comrade-pilots swim in this infinity.

Kazimir Malevich


Shouldn’t it give us pause that the oldest works of art are as impressive today in their beauty and spontaneity as they were many thousands of years ago?

Kazimir Malevich


The representation of an object, in itself (the objectivity as the aim of the representation), is something that has nothing to do with art, although the use of representation in a work of art does not rule out the possibility of its being of a high artistic order. For the suprematist, therefore, the proper means is the one that provides the fullest expression of pure feeling and ignores the habitually accepted object. The object in itself is meaningless to him; and the ideas of the conscious mind are worthless. Feeling is the decisive factor, and thus art arrives at non-objective representation – at Suprematism.

- in «Artists on Art – from the 14th – 20th centuries», ed. by Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves; Pantheon Books, 1972, London, p. 452


[Giacomo Balla], he advanced Dynamic Futurism, drawing closer, not to the human body but to the machine, as contemporary muscles of a man of today…The actual structure of each of Balla’s works tells us that the dynamic power sensed by the artist is incomparable greater than the actual bodies of the machines, and the content of each machine is only a small part of this dynamic power, since each machine is a mere unit from the sum total of the forces of contemporary life.

- «Cubofuturism», Malevich, in “Essays on Art”, op. cit., vol 2



 

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