Head-First Through the Hole in the ZeroMalevich’s Suprematism, Khlebnikov’s Futurism, and the Development of a Deconstructive Aesthetic, 1908–1919by Thomas Aiello
Suprematism’s attempt to move beyond representation in painting coincided with an attempt to move beyond Russian Futurist poetry and literature. It was an attempt to go ‘beyond zero’. In making that move, however, Kasimir Malevich, creator of suprematism, needed to develop from Russian Futurism—particularly that of Velimir Khlebnikov— working within the Russian avant-garde. Through his painterly reliance on the square, Malevich not only worked in concert with Futurists such as Khlebnikov but ultimately elaborated on a literary theory bound by the constraints of language. In essence, Malevich’s Suprematism could not get ‘beyond zero’ until Khlebnikov’s Futurism got him there.
Thomas Aiello is Doctoral Student in History at The University of Arkansas.