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Guggenheim Museum Announces Malevich in Focus: 1912-1922

NEW YORK, NY.- Richard Armstrong, Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum, today announced an exhibition of six important paintings by the great Russian Suprematist artist, Kazimir Malevich (1878–1935), opening at the Guggenheim on February 19, 2010. Mr. Armstrong noted, “Malevich is unquestionably among the most celebrated Russian artists of the twentieth century. It is particularly fitting and a privilege for us to present these six major works because the Guggenheim’s founder was inspired by the same spiritual quest and aesthetic ideals that exemplified Malevich’s art during the ten-year period that is represented in these extraordinary paintings.”

Malevich in Focus: 1912–1922 brings together these six works for the first time since the 1927 Malevich retrospective in Berlin. Four of the paintings were received by the heirs of Malevich from Amsterdam following a settlement between the heirs and the city in 2008 resolving claims asserted by the heirs. These works include Desk and Room (1913), Painterly Realism of a Football Player (Football Match) (1915), Suprematism, 18th Construction (1915), and Suprematist Painting (Black Cross and Red Oval) (1920–22). In addition, the works are joined by Morning in the Village after Snowstorm (1912), a Cubo-Futurist work that entered the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1952, and Untitled (ca. 1916), a cornerstone of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, which is owned and operated by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. A claim by the Malevich heirs concerning the ownership of Untitled was recently resolved in a settlement between the heirs and the Guggenheim. These paintings will remain on view through June 30, 2010.

Malevich has long been celebrated as one of the seminal founders of nonobjective art in the twentieth century. Between 1915 and 1932 he developed a system of abstract painting called Suprematism, an art of pure form meant to be universally comprehensible regardless of cultural or ethnic origin. Similar to his contemporaries Piet Mondrian and Vasily Kandinsky, Malevich created an artistic utopia that became the secular equivalent of religious painting—in his case intending to replace the ubiquitous icon in the Russian home—creating works meant to evoke higher states of spiritual consciousness.

For the Guggenheim, this exhibition is the latest manifestation of a commitment to the art of the Russian avant-garde, which began early in the institution’s history. Founded as the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, the Guggenheim has collected masterworks by Marc Chagall, Natalia Goncharova, Kandinsky, El Lissitzky, and Malevich. Moreover, the Guggenheim has mounted many exhibitions devoted to Russian artists, most recently a full-scale retrospective of Kandinsky. In 1973, the first great retrospective of Malevich’s work in this country was presented by the Guggenheim, and in 2002 the Guggenheim and the Menil Collection coorganized the exhibition Malevich: Suprematism, the first exhibition to focus exclusively on the artist’s Suprematist period. From July 9 to September 7, 2010, the Guggenheim will present a focused exhibition entitled Malevich and Kandinsky, which will bring together the Suprematist works from Malevich in Focus with several paintings from Kandinsky’s Bauhaus period. The exhibition will explore both artists’ use of geometry in their abstractions, as well as their relationship in Russia during World War I. Malevich in Focus and the forthcoming Malevich and Kandinsky demonstrate the Guggenheim’s ongoing commitment to the work of Kazimir Malevich and to the history of the avant-garde in the early decades of the twentieth century.

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