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Snowed-in Suprematism? Winter Olympics Posters Pay Homage to Kazimir Malevich

by Mostafa Heddaya on December 18, 2013

Sochi-5

2014 Paralympic Games posters in the style of Kazimir Malevich (image via The Calvert Journal)

Sochi 2014, the Russian organization responsible for this year’s Winter Olympics and Paralympics in the city of Sochi, has released the event’s promotional posters, among them works channeling the spirit of Kazimir Malevich. Though we have previously noted Malevich’s symbolic prominence, he tends to be associated with an oppositional ethos, not the “colorful and inspirational” look praised in the Sochi games’ press release:

The figures depicted on each poster symbolize equality and Paralympic spirit, steadfastness of character and the will to win. The creative design employed is reminiscent of the works of notable Russian artist Kazimir Malevich, a style which is identifiable for many in Russia. These colorful and inspirational posters will please fans and guests to the host city of the Paralympic Games while also highlighting the first Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Russia.

At any rate, the Calvert Journal, an English-language website on Russian culture published out of London, noted that Malevich’s use is consistent with his global reputation as an avatar for Russia’s modern art. Other posters trade on a more familiar body of images, including the iconic Matryoschka nesting dolls.

Update, 3:41pm: An astute reader notes the dismal fate of Malevich’s grave in modern Russia. In their August 30 report on the discovery, the New York Times wrote:

The burial site of the Russian avant-garde artist and theorist Kazimir Malevich, in a field near Moscow, has been covered in concrete by a real estate developer to make way for luxury housing…

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  • Shawn Chapman

    I thought that was “culture.”

  • Eugene Ostashevsky

    What’s more obscene is that these are based on Malevich’s collectivization paintings, the ones that commemorate the imposition of the kolkhoz system in the late 20s, and the massive famine that followed across the food-producing regions of the Soviet Union–what the Ukrainians call Holodomor. Malevich is the only painter I know to have responded to the state-induced catastrophe.

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