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“Art,” wrote Leo Tolstoy in an 1897 essay, “begins when one person, with the object of joining another or others to himself in one and the same feeling, expresses that feeling by certain external indications.” This essentially communicative function is entirely lost on the widespread conspiratorial philistinism which sees only in contemporary art the cryptic relics of an obscure priesthood. It’s a fruitful space for trolls, and the examples are a dime a dozen: from 1964’s Pierre Brassau affair, where a monkey’s painting was used to fool one or two Swedish critics, to this recent BuzzFeed quiz, which repeats the familiar charge that it’s nearly impossible to tell between “multi million dollar art” and cheap rubbish. (Despite its use of unfairly grainy or cropped images, the quiz is actually pretty bad at proving this point.)

At any rate, the above video, disseminated widely over the last day or so, shows an “art student” meticulously copying the Suprematist works of Kazimir Malevich for a portfolio, then going around and showing his work for admission to a number of art academies under the anagrammatical name of Michael Mikrivaz. (Malevich is something of a go-to for art world malcontents — see also the Guerilla Art Action Group incident at MoMA in 1969.) This prank’s conceit: that Malevich, or “Mikrivaz,” would be rejected by today’s art establishment, or something.

Yes, “Mikrivaz” is rejected all around, but the reactions we see are entirely reasonable. Up next, watch a John Updike plagiarist get rejected from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

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Mostafa Heddaya

Mostafa Heddaya is the former managing editor of Hyperallergic.

6 replies on “Would Kazimir Malevich Get into Art School Today?”

  1. Well now, that wasn’t very thought out… No, million dollar artworks, obviously lifted from art history, are not all one needs to get into an art academy. One day art students every where will graduate and realize that: no, art is not just about the “work”.

  2. You forgot the ‘History’ part of your Art History… School aren’t looking for what have been done 100 years ago…

    It is like trying to sell Windows 95 in 2013 and play the victim because nobody care of your ‘big seller’ product…

    1. Guillaume, I dare to disagree. They rejected him because they did not like the pieces and thought he was still not far enough to be surrounded by the “real’ talent of the Gerrit Rietveld.

      These teachers should have immediately called him out on blatant copying. Or said they weren’t looking for something that was done better a 100 years ago. They didn’t. Which begs the questions if these Gerrit Rietveld people are really as good as they claim.

  3. Now, had anyone actually accepted this kid based on a derivative portfolio like this there might have been a story for them there.. but no one did for obvious reasons.

  4. It totally depends on your selling technique. Although this is published artwork, would it get anyone into art school?

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