circa 1918. Translated by Frank Goodwin or Irina Menchova.
Untitled, undated. “Kubizm, razrushitel idei veshch”. Formerly Nikolai Khardzhiev Archives, Moscow-Amsterdam, now Russian State Archive of Literature and Art, RGALI, Moscow. Inventory number 9.10. K.S. Malevich 832. The emphasis on the non-objective forces of Suprematism and on the Suprematist “construction” would suggest that the text is of 1918, the time during which Malevich was painting such canvases. He says in this text that it is a “report” but to whom he does not say. The frequent references to the “technicum”, a school of vocational training, further suggests that this text is of 1918, the year during which Malevich was active in a government plan to set up a People’s Academy of Art in Moscow, an “art technicum”. He could, then, have been addressing the planning committee.
Cubism destroys the idea of the object. The disappearance of the subject frees the artist and the world; it enters the non-objectivity of action, removes the cover of the arts, liberates itself from the State, Religion and the Church, which will no longer teach us to illustrate painting. Essentially, liberation from a thing, as from consciousness of the object, is a sign of man’s proximity to nature. Nature has no subjects; there is none in the human technicum, either. The consciousness of the object exists in the artist and we designate all bodies as objects (a collective); and yet on the same basis, we differentiate between those bodies. A simple act of self-structuring exists, an act that copies nothing, imitates nothing. Like a pure act of forces, a river flows with the goal of creating, not imitating objects, but the utilitarian consciousness turns such an act into objects, instruments, and means. Thus man now sees only the utilitarian in everything and continues to reason further in this way; but, nevertheless, the means, instruments and objects themselves remain essentially non-objective, for in their eternal finiteness they cannot attain their goal.
I have touched upon Cubism and wish to demonstrate that, in culture, its painting reached the highest development both in the consistency of painterly material and in the construction of curved and straight [forms], surfaces, volumes, etc.. How is purely natural art substantiated? By those same curved and straight forms, surfaces and volumes, the same symmetry and asymmetry of contrasts, the balance of a non-objective body; a body, moreover, in which the human tentacles of specialists grope about for doors to the discovery of useful objects, albeit in vain. Nature moves by way of a non-objective path, as does the entire objective technicum. Of course, man is free to sit himself on a motor car and even learn to direct its force towards some kind of goal, but this cannot accommodate its pure force, man has not adapted himself. The force remains pure and any attempt to accommodate it merely impedes: it was and will be non-objective. The painting of Cubism is the same pure force into which nothing objective has been introduced. Its construction develops extraordinarily fast and as soon as it reveals the river within, I presume that someone will start to launch boats. Thus the whole non-objectivity of Cubism and Futurism has continued to evolve and the idea of Suprematism is already achieving a vivid form of the non-objective. The moment of usefulness is approaching and that is our business, but defending the purity of non-objective quality is not the primary issue of my present report. In the Suprematist construction, however, we see that action occurs as a natural, non-objective form, that growth occurs without calculations. Here experience is living and natural, not literate or bookish, and without resorting to the engineer, man will probably come to a construction through the painterly passage and will develop his own inner painterly technicum. The latest and greatest technicum is the most economical one, free, creative, and vast. Only in this kind of technicum can all humanity take equal part without difficulty, for it will create, but not copy or imitate.
The painterly idea begins to crystallise as soon as the objective world begins to disappear in painterly movement, right down to pure Suprematist non-objectivity. The latter is the extremely crucial point of the manifestation. At this moment various solutions present themselves to the working individual. A multitude of questions arise and, like red hot fires, raise a powerful flame, and the excited organism can cast the mould of a completely unresolved question, thus adapting the non-objective to an objective appearance. Studying the non-objective manifestation of painterly essence, I have ascertained that its consciousness moves by way of nature’s natural movement, that the idea of painting conceals within itself a universal Suprematia, an essential non-objectivity. At the same time it encourages man to reveal his creative work to a greater extent through the incarnation of this idea or to manifest what exists eternally in the eternity of form and within the life of various progressive conditions. Objectivity is a manifestation of man’s experience and scientific order, while non-objectivity is a cosmic, natural condition. In its non-objectivity the painterly idea withdraws towards the former. Herein lies the question of the new culture of man, for he is entering a new consciousness of being as a unity of the universe’s cosmic manifestation, the only difference being that all his manifestations within the latter must occur in an unconscious movement towards non-objective forms. This is why we should be careful of the manifestation of non-objective forms. Many may imagine that in attaining or creating non-objectivity endlessly there can be no life, for the objective world will disappear, the goal will disappear, usefulness will disappear, etc.. However nature herself – the entire universe – is also non-objective, aimless, inexpedient, and yet still comprises life. Somehow or other, both construct and build the world.
In the beginning there was only one technicum of the objective, but now a new one of painterly objective Suprematism is advancing through art. A struggle for the culture of man has ensued, a battle for the non-objective or the objective. Throughout this struggle, throughout these demonstrations, many misunderstandings and obscurities will arise in this new non-objective science and so, then resolving this or that question about the non-objective, we should always look closely at all the possibilities. Misunderstandings about the non-objective have already accrued because painterly essence emerged from constructivity, i.e., it arrived at the general constructive art of constructions. It came to rely on the technicum of objective consciousness. Still, that does not mean that objective forms should be constructed according to an objective law.
Image: Suprematist Composition: White on White by Kazimir Malevich, 1917-18