Suprematist Composition

c. 1920

colored pencil on paper
5 3/8 x 4 1/8 inches


Ivan Kliun [1873-1942] was a Russian Avant-Garde painter, sculptor and art theorist, associated with the Suprematist movement. Much inspired by Cubist, Suprematist, and Purist devices, his liaison with Malevich made him an important adherent of the geometric painting of Suprematism.After studying in Warsaw and Kiev in the 1890s he moved to Moscow to study under F.I. Rerberg, V. Fisher, and Ilya Mashkov. Perhaps his most formative encounter was that with Malevich in 1907. Kliun was a founding member of the Moscow Salon in 1910, but also knew of the experimental activities of the Union of Youth with whom he exhibited in 1913-14. By 1913 he was producing painted relief constructions and moving in the circle of Malevich, Matyushin and the futurist poet Kruchenykh. In 1915 he contributed to the Tramway V, The First Futurist Exhibition of Paintings in Petrograd.

When Malevich launched his geometric style Suprematism in 1915 at the 0.10. The Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings, Kliun was a fellow exhibitor and immediate in his response. He contributed to the unpublished review Supremus in Moscow during 1916-17.

After the Revolution Kliun exhibited with the Knave of Diamonds in Moscow in 1917 and at the First Exhibition of Works of the Professional Union of Artists in Moscow in 1918. He was included in the Fifth State Exhibition: From Impressionism to Non-Objective Art in Moscow in 1918-19, and in the Tenth State Exhibition: Non-Objective Creativity and Suprematism in 1919 where he published a statement The Art of Colour in the catalogue, arguing that with the death of the representational image in painting, art would be liberated handmade available to the public through the new concept of of a Museum of Painterly Culture.

From 1918 to 1921, he was a Professor at Vkhutemas, the state art and technical school. From 1920, he was a member of Inkhuk (the Institute of Artistic Culture) and, after 1921, a Corresponding Member of GAHN (State Academy of Art Sciences [ru]).

Until the mid 1920s, his works were largely geometric forms. In the late 1920s, he developed an interest in modern Western European art, especially the French; copying works by Picasso and Braque. He was especially attracted to the works of Amédée Ozenfant. In the early 1930s, he created numerous still-lifes in the Purist style. From the mid 1930s on he, and most Soviet artists, were compelled to paint works of Social Realism. In response, he created realistic still-lifes and landscapes and gave them away to friends and family.