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(b nr. Kiev, 11 [23] Feb. 1878 [or ?1879]; d Leningrad, 15 May 1935). Russian painter, designer, and writer, with Mondrian the most important pioneer of geometric abstract art. He began working in an unexceptional Post-Impressionist manner, but by 1912 he was painting peasant subjects in a massive ‘tubular’ style similar to that of Léger as well as pictures combining the fragmentation of form of Cubism with the multiplication of the image of Futurism (The Knife Grinder, 1912, Yale Univ. AG). Malevich, however, was dissatisfied with representational art or—as he put it—fired with the desire ‘to free art from the burden of the object’. He was a deeply religious man, with mystical leanings, and he thought that by abandoning the need to depict the external world he could break through to a deeper level of meaning and ‘swim in the white free abyss’ (he often used the analogy of flight and space when discussing his paintings).

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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