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Malevich’s Red Square Essay, Research Paper

Max Blythe



MWF 8-9

Red Square

The painting Red Square by Russian painter Kasimir Malevich is a particularly interesting piece. It is simple red square on a white background representing a peasant woman. It is an example of the Malevich’s unique style of suprematism, which focuses on motion and feeling.

The painting was done near the beginning of the twentieth century when science was developing at a rapid rate. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was gaining ground at the time. Malevich’s painting seemed to borrow from this theory that attempted to explain relative motion. His suprematism style attempted to capture a neo-realism in painting portraying pure feeling and perception. This new style was communicated by the discarding of natural references. Malevich grew tired of painting in the traditional style with everything looking and feeling the way they are in life. His new style tried to free viewer from their traditional a priori views concerning shape and colors imposed on them by their senses. Suprematist style focuses was on depictions of movement and dynamism. Flight and anti-gravity fascinated Malevich. Much of his paintings were a top down view of the subjects arranged on a white background. The white background represents infinite space, while the subjects were reduced to geometric blocks. The message of the paintings comes out in the relative position of the blocks to the background. The infinite background of the paintings is to divorce the paintings from the finite earth. Malevich himself said that his paintings “do not belong to the earth exclusively.” The paintings sought to transcend to a different level. Malevich’s suprematist style sought to take people to the fourth dimension, which was pure sensation.

This fourth dimension effect was reached by stripping away the distractions. Malevich’s art was made to be felt and he broke down complex characters into the simplest of geometric shapes. The colors that he chose for his subjects were not the ones that were true to life. He did this by choice to get past the human biased way of seeing an object. He was trying to transmit pure sensation. The actual subject is irrelevant; the feelings of it are the main focus.

With Malevich’s Red Square a peasant woman is depicted. Here Malevich is not trying to depict a pretty picture of a woman. Instead, he reduces the woman to a simple square and transmits her essence. The color red perhaps could represent anger and the slightly unsymmetrical lines of the square could represent unbalance. However, any analysis of Malevich’s suprematist paintings has to be viewed without biased. Previous knowledge says that red is mad and unsymmetry means unbalance, so any analysis based on logic and a priori judgement is suspect. Only the raw emotions of the woman are supposed to be transmitted. Personally, I see the red square as an Russian babushka. The tilt of the square represents her trudging way of moving and gracelessness. The bright red is an extremely warm color, which is fitting for a Russian peasant woman. The white space is to isolate her from the rest of the world and focus only on her.

The Red Square is a fairly revolutionary painting. One complex subject is rendered down to a single geometric shape and color. The main point of the painting is to express the dynamic movement and pure sensation of the subject. This is what Malevich was trying to get across instead of painting another pretty picture of real life.

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