Half Price Books had a few copies of Kazimir Malevich: Suprematism, the catalog of the Guggenheim Museum exhibition of the same name on sale for six bucks a few weeks back. That would be more like "One Tenth Price Books," and I was happy to stumble on the deal. Malevich was born in the Ukraine in 1878, enjoyed success as an avant-garde artist and intellectual, most notably in the nineteen-teens and twenties, before his spirit and eventually his life were squashed by the Stalinist Soviet Union in 1935.
In 1915 or so he developed a theory and system that used basic geometric designs and shapes to create paintings and other works that were purely abstract. He called this "Suprematism." Sotheby's sold a Malevich piece titled "Suprematist Composition" a few years back for an ungodly sum of money. The Sotheby's site has a detailed catalog note about Malevich and Suprematism, which is worth reading if one is so inclined.
Malevich produced a lot of interesting work in various styles and in various media. Some of it is clearly in a cubist vein, and employs collage and humorous images, written phrases and words ("Composition with Mona Lisa," which features a tongue-in-cheek defacement of the Mona Lisa that might predate Marcel Duchamp's similar gesture, and "Private of the First Division" are a couple examples), etc. Many of the pieces have quirky titles--"Simultaneous Death of a Man in an Airplane and on the Railroad," as one example--others are more simply titled, such as "White Square" or "Black Square."
Last week, I had an hour-and-a-half to kill while waiting for a soccer practice to finish, and I read a reference to a work titled "Cow and Violin" in the Malevich Guggenheim catalog. I was bored, and it was getting too dark to read, but not too dark to make bad drawings, so I made a few doodles of what I thought a cow and violin might look like together. Here's the best of the bunch:
It's a really big violin or a really small cow.
Here's what Malevich's "Cow and Violin" looks like:
If you want, you can color your own version of "Cow and Violin" as well as other Malevich works, including "Suprematist Composition," on the Super Coloring website:
Maybe you can sell yours for sixty million dollars. Wouldn't that be nifty?