Letters, Writings and Memos by Russian Suprematist Artist Kazimir Malevich Up for Auction

Bonhams’ Fine Books, Manuscripts, Atlases & Historical Photographs in London will be led by an important archive of correspondence and writings from the father of Suprematism, Kazimir Malevich. The 340-page collection, illuminating his artistic activities and personal life against the social and political background of the Soviet era, is expected to fetch £150,000-250,000.

Russian Suprematist Artist Kazimir Malevich

Kazimir Malevich, Russian avant-garde artist and art theorist, was best known for pioneering art movement Suprematism which focuses on basic geometric forms painted in a limited range of colours. He believed an abstract art should base upon "the supremacy of pure artistic feeling" rather than on visual depiction of objects. His works and thinking had a profound influence on the development of non-objective art in the twentieth-century.

Last month, Malevich’s Suprematist Composition was hammered down at US$76m at Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale in New York. It was sold for US$85.8m (premium included), setting an auction record for the artist. This work epitomises Malevich’s ‘Suprematist’ belief.

The collection to be offered at Bonhams' coming sale reveals both Malevich’s his personal and artistic preoccupations, dates from 1913, shortly after his return from his momentous visit to Paris, and ends just before his death from cancer in 1935. Formed by the writer and art collector Nikolai Ivanovich Khardzhiev (1903-1996), the collection includes letters, articles, essays, autograph notes, memoranda and other materials by Malevich.

Part of the collection to be offered at the auction

In one undated letter to the poet Grigorii Petnikov, Malevich explained his iconic painting Black Square (‘The Black Square is the reality of life…’) and the notion of non-objectivity ("..it's not the death of Art, but the death of the object in art...").

Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square (1913). Collection of State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Malevich also wrote about his lifelong struggle with critics and government officials in a 1921 letter to People's Commissar of Enlightenment. He complained of their attitude towards the New Art and railed against Soviet state-backed Socialist Realist art.

Part of the collection to be offered at the auction

Malevich had an uneasy relationship with the Soviet establishment, and fell out of favor in the late 1920s. His works and papers were confiscated and he was imprisoned briefly in 1930. He was forced to abandon abstraction and painted in a representational style for the rest of his life before his death from cancer in 1935, at the age of 56.

Lot information

Collection of Kazimir Malevich
Comprising correspondence with fellow artists and writers, theoretical writings and other papers, in Russian

Lot no.: 234
Circa: 1913-1935
Estimate: £150,000 - 250,000

Auction details
Auction house: Bonhams London
Sale: Fine books, Manuscripts, Atlases & Historical
Lots offered: 296