Kazimir Malevich Landscape to star in Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale

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Kazimir Malevich, Landscape, 1911. Gouache on paper laid down on board, 41 3/4 x 41 3/4 in. (106 x 106 cm.). Estimate: £7,000,000-10,000,000. © Christie’s Images Limited 2018.

Kazimir Malevich’s Landscape (1911, estimate: £7,000,000-10,000,000) will be a major highlight of Christie’sImpressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale on 20 June 2018, part of ‘20th Century at Christie’s’, a series of auctions taking place from 15 to 21 June 2018. The monumental, square-format landscape is from ‘The Red Series’, a group of works characterised by gestural brush strokes and an expressive use of colour, referencing both Fauvism and Cubism, and anticipating Malevich’s move towards Suprematism.

Landscape was first exhibited in the ‘Moscow Salon’ in February / March 1911. It was subsequently shown the following year in St. Petersburg as part of ‘The Union of Youth’, where Malevich represented a radical collective known as ‘Donkey’s Tail’. In 1927, he was invited to Germany to show his work for the first time outside Russia and brought with him the best works of his career to date. Landscape was one such work and remained in Berlin after Malevich returned to Russia. Due to the rise of totalitarianism in Germany and in his home country, the artist lost control of his works abroad before he died in 1935. Landscape resurfaced after the war and was acquired by the Kunstmuseum Basel, where it hung for over 50 years, before being restituted to the heirs of the artist. It is now being offered from a private collection and represents the first time that work has come to auction in two generations. Landscape will be exhibited in London from 15 to 20 June 2018.

Landscape is a ‘pure’ landscape painting whose motif of peasant dwellings surrounded by stylized treetops is borrowed from Russian primitive art. The use of colour to sculpt the forms represented recalls the techniques employed by Cézanne, while the block-like depiction of the buildings nods towards the Cubist compositions of Braque and Picasso. By distilling these diverse visual references, Malevich has created a powerful and profoundly unique work of art. He himself stated that ‘one was obliged to move both along the line of primitive treatment of phenomena, and along the line of Cézanne to cubism.’ The red-hot gleam on the horizon is a direct depiction of the sun, one of the unique features of the painting that foretells the primacy of colour that would define Suprematism. In the early 1930s, Malevich returned to creating ‘pure’ landscapes, producing Landscape with five houses, Landscape with a white house, and Red House, all of which are in the collection of the State Russian Museum.

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