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Portrait of the Artist’s Wife. 1934

Malevich Kazimir,
Oil on canvas
66 х 56

State Russian Museum


Depicts: Natalia Andreyevna Manchenko (married name Malevich) (1902–1990): Third wife of the artist.
It would be wrong to link the final stage in Kazimir Malevich’s oeuvre to the establishment of the official doctrine of Socialist Realism in Soviet art in the early 1930s. In Malevich’s last works, Realism is the result of the assimilation of the traditions of classical world art; the sum total of the artist’s conclusions, inspiring his own plastic quests. Painted in 1934, a year before the artist’s death, Portrait of the Artist’s Wife is permeated with an air of pessimism. Natalia Manchenko is depicted in a static pose; her face is detached and expresses apathy and weariness. This mood of pessimism is intensified by the blank and impenetrable background of the portrait, which also highlights the sculptural moulding of the volumes. Malevich depicts his wife in a dress with a Suprematist design that can, on the one hand, be called modern. On the other hand, it is vaguely reminiscent of the garb of a Renaissance woman. Although his model is completely concrete, Malevich nevertheless remains true to his artistic principles. He creates an image that goes beyond the frontiers of the characteristics of an individual, born of the imagination of an artist capable of thinking in general categories.

Author's Biography

Malevich Kazimir

Malevich, Kazimir Severinovich (1878, Kiev - 1935, Leningrad)
Painter, graphic artist, writer on art, portraitist, landscapist, abstractionist. Studied at the Kiev School of Art (1895-1896) and Fyodor Roehrberg's studio in Moscow (1906-1910). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1905). Contributed to the exhibitions of the Moscow Fellowship of Artists (from 1907), Donkey's Tail (1912), Target (1913), Der Blaue Reiter (1912), Salon des Independants (1914), Tramcar V. First Futurist Exhibition (1915) and 0,10. Last Futurist Exhibition (1915-1916). Designed the sets and costumes for the Futurist opera "Victory Over the Sun" (1913). Member of the Union of Youth (1910) and Jack of Diamonds (1910, 1916). Founded the AFFIRMES OF THE NEW ARTgroup (1920). Worked for Department of An People's Commissariat of Education (1918-1919). Director of the Museum/Institute of Artistic Culture in Petrograd/Leningrad (1923-1926).

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