Although known as a pioneer of geometric abstract art, Russian born Kazimir Malevich (1878-1935) experimented with various Modernist styles of painting throughout his life. His first work bore resemblance to Russian folk painting and he soon experimented with Symbolism, Expressionism and Realism. At one of his earlier exhibitions in 1913, Malevich described his work as Cubo-Futurist highlighting his Cubist influences.
By 1915, Malevich had gone on to develop a new style of painting which he referred to as, Suprematism. Derived from a Latin word meaning ‘superior’ or ‘perfected,’ Malevich wanted to liberate art and create a ‘pure experience’ using geometric shapes. He rejected representative styles, choosing to focus on basic forms and consequently produced his most famous painting, ‘Black Square.’ This vigorously non-representative piece shows a simple black square hovering above a white background.
Following the Russian Revolution in 1917, Malevich was among a group of artists championed by the Soviet government and earned himself a position as an art teacher where he focused on Suprematism. In the final stage of his career, abstract art was banned under Stalin’s regime and as a result, Malevich was forbidden from creating or exhibiting any similar art. He was forced to return to a representative style; however ‘Black Square’ remains his most famous work of art.