Sara E. Thomas
Next students will compare photographs of a knife grinder to Malevich's painting of one. Kasimir Malevich lived in Russia, but was of Polish decent. He never traveled, but was introduced to the idea of Futurism by his friends. When he was younger his father worked in a sugar mill. He said, "(the) machines resembled carnivorous monsters." (Hilton 7) Because of this childhood experience he did not celebrate modern technology in the same way that his contemporaries did, however he did capture the same sense of movement and vitality. He began painting at a young age and began applying Cezanne's principle that everything should be reduced to geometric forms: cone, cube and sphere. This is the same approach I will be taking teaching my students drawing. Malevich's work turns people and objects into geometric solids. (Milton 13) The unit I teach before this one will have my students practicing exactly that -- they will practice drawing each of the building blocks correctly. His style becomes a mix of Cezanne and cubism. He uses more than one angle of the object, breaks the object down into geometric forms, gives the forms implied volume from a variety of different light source throughout the composition and captures the movement and rhythm of the action tacking place. (Crone 41)
Malevich's the Knife Grinder/Principle of Flickering is a wonderful example of futurism. (It can be viewed, along with an explanation of the painting at: http://artgallery.yale.edu/pages/collection/popups/pc_modern/enlarge9.html) In the center of the painting is a large, white, semi--circle, with a smaller white circle above it. Below the semi--circle the shape of a foot and toes of a shoe are repeated over and over again. A back leg is visible, planted and not moving. Above the smaller circle are six different hands in different positions. One appears to be holding a grey triangle shape that is also repeated. At the top there are different facial features repeated as well. There are three eyes visible, at least four different parts of mustaches, and different nose shapes. The background is also very fragmented. Malevich has captured the movement of the knife--grinder very effectively.
I am excited for my students to see this painting as an original, at the Yale Art Gallery. Having the opportunity to see an original artwork is a wonderful experience. I am curious to hear their initial reactions to it because I am not sure that they will have any background knowledge about knife--grinding.