Study for a Fresco Painting (Self-Portrait)
Head of a Peasant
Early 1930s
Red Cavalry
circa 1932
Head of a Modern Girl

The special focus that Palazzo Forti has long been placing on the great protagonists of the art of the 20th century, this year materialises with the anthological exhibition dedicated to Kazimir Malevich (1878-1935).
The great Russian artist not only represents one of the key pillars of historical avant-garde movements, but since the 20s he has become a true legend for the generations that have influenced art in our time. The radical spirit and mysticism that support his research and that are at the base of "Suprematist" sensitivity have fostered an unexhausted interest in the enigmatic nature of his figure and his works.
However, the Palazzo Forti exhibition, organised in collaboration with the Russian State Museum of St Petersburg, focuses on what have been to date uncharted waters: indeed, through the exhibition of over 100 works, it explores the well known relationship between Malevich's art and the intense spirituality, the bright colours, the harmonic rhythms and the sparkling golden backgrounds of the holy icons. For the very first time in Italy, Malevich's works - 60 items including paintings, drawings, stage costumes and design articles - are exhibited side by side with a selection of twenty extraordinary icons painted between the 15th and the 19th centuries, with a view to highlighting the affinity of their language as well as the incredible attraction of their chromatic appeal.
However, the exhibition does not neglect another term of comparison with Malevich's works: the re-discovery of the themes and stylistic features of popular art, mediated by the comprehension of the icons and linked to the rural world and to childhood memories, is indeed documented through the exhibition of some important artefacts made between the 18th century and early 20th century and originating from major Russian crafts centres.
The influence of these two components of Russian culture and art follows the whole of the great maestro's artistic evolution, both in the initial stage when he tackled and rapidly assimilated the more innovative experiences of European and Russian art - from post-Impressionism to neo-Primitivism, from Cubism to Italian Futurism - and at the height of Suprematism - documented in the exhibition through key paintings including Suprematism (1915-1916), Black Square and Black Cross (1923) - where the colours and the basic geometrical shapes appear to be derived from the icons and re-interpreted in the light of a completely abstract language.
The true interest in the essential shapes and the bright colours of the popular tradition and in the deep mysticism and symbolism of the holy Russian icons, also transpires from the final stage of his artistic evolution, which peaked in the late 20s, when Malevich chose to stage a return to figuration, albeit re-interpreted in the light of the Suprematist experience. And this very focus on the artistic output in the last years of his life originates further interest in the exhibition that in this section presents works of great artistic value such as Peasant's Head (1928-32), Maiden's Head (1932), Portrait of Nicolaj Punin (1933) which only in relatively recent years have resurfaced from the Russian Museums warehouses thus allowing us to reconstruct a partly undiscovered and highly fascinating phase of Kazimir Malevich's artistic path.

Licenza SIAE no 01 (CGCAOO/01) del 22/10/99
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