The Drents Museum was proud to present a solo exhibition on the most important Russian artist from the first half of the 20th century: Kazimir Malevich (1878-1935). The presentation featured a top collection of 60 original paintings, all from the collection of the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. The emphasis in this exhibition was on the figurative work, which Malevich made from 1928 till his death in 1935. This exhibition was the third in the series International Realism in the Drents Museum and was preceded by Realism from Leipzig (2009) and The Soviet Myth (2012-2013).
Emphasis on figurative work
During the last years of his life, and influenced by socialist realism, Malevich painted works with agricultural life as its central theme. Within his oeuvre, it is the phase which has received the least attention, due among other things to the fact that after his death, the nearly entire collection of Malevich’s work, by way of his heirs, went to the Russian State museum and was barely known outside the Soviet Union under the communist regime. After the perestroika, they gained some fame.
Some key works: Black Square and self-portrait
The figurative were introduced by means of the various stylistic phases Malevich went through during his rich career: Symbolism, Impressionism, Cubism and Suprematism were shown through some key works. Highlight in this introductory series was the completely abstract work The Black Square (1913), which is considered one of the best-known works in the history of art. Subsequently, the exhibition showed the development of Malevich’s figurative work, which is partly abstracted. His famous Renaissance portraits (from 1993) were also shown, among them his self-portrait (1933).
Death mask, hand and series of opera costumes
Unique, for the first time in the Netherlands, were Malevich’ original death mask and hand. Also accompanying the exhibition were a series of costumes, based on designs by Malevich and made for the avant-garde opera Victory over the Sun which was performed in St. Petersburg in 1913. Some of the original design drawings of these costumes were shown.