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After examining “Black Square” under a microscope, researchers from Russia’s State Tretyakov Gallery, which houses one of three versions of the Suprematist composition, found a handwritten inscription under a topcoat of black paint. They believe it reads “Battle of negroes in a dark cave.”
Though they’re still deciphering the handwriting, the researchers assume this phrase is a reference to what is widely believed to be the first modern monochromatic artwork, a 1897 work by French writer and humorist Alphonse Allais, called “Combat de Nègres dans une cave pendant la nuit” (“Negroes Fighting in a Cellar at Night”). If their speculations are correct, then “Black Square” is in some kind of dialogue with Allais, who was well-known in Russia at the time Malevich worked, and whose “Combat” piece was considered a joke by contemporary European audiences, even if it is clearly a racist one.
Now often referred to as the “zero point of painting,” “Black Square” is widely considered an avant-garde masterpiece. It has considerably degraded over the years due to poor conservation, having spent years unattended in Soviet archives. As art critic Peter Schjeldahl put it in the New Yorker, “The painting looks terrible: crackled, scuffed, and discolored, as if it had spent the past 88 years patching a broken window.”
In addition to the inscription, two other images were found under the black topcoat. “It has been known that under the image of the Black Square some other, underlying picture exists. We’ve found out that not just one, but two images are [underneath it],” Ekaterina Voronina, a researcher from Russia’s State Tretyakov Gallery, told Russia’s Kultura (Culture) TV channel. “We proved that the initial image is a Cubo-Futurist composition, while the painting lying directly under the Black Square — the colors of which you can see in the cracks — is a proto-Suprematist composition,” she said.
New works by one of Bangladesh’s most prominent photojournalists, writers, and activists are on view at the Chicago art space through November 27.
Council often uses humor as a political tool to expose systems of power and inequality in a society in which even death carries a high price tag.
An exhibition at the San Francisco Opera House pairs the work of incarcerated artists with Beethoven’s story of unjust imprisonment.
Many works take disruption and repetition as their themes, and many artists resurface in different sections, creating multiple affinities.
Hear from Holly Jean Buck, Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas, Simon Denny, Elizabeth Hoover, Renee Kemp-Rotan, Joseph Kunkel, and more at this free public event.
In Cooking with Paris, Hilton capitalizes on her portrayal of being a competent woman, while highlighting its anachronism through her absurd performance. Rosler manipulates the camera in the same way.
EFA Open Studios offers a portal into the creative habitats of over 65 artists working in Manhattan’s longest-running studio program, including Dannielle Tegeder, Wafaa Bilal, Cui Fei, and Anina Major.
A man says Blue Bayou took details of his life without his permission. Several women who appear in the documentary Sabaya say they did not consent to be filmed. How can filmmakers avoid these ethical pitfalls?
Ursula Biemann, Nicolas Bourriaud, and others said they will no longer participate in the event.
There is an official ban against the public mourning of Tiananmen Square victims in Hong Kong and mainland China.