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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst


Maker(s):Chashnik, Il’ia Grigor'evich
Culture:Russian (1902-1929)
Title:Red Circle and Suprematist Cross
Date Made:ca. 1925
Materials:India ink and watercolor on paper
Measurements:Overall: 17 7/8 x 14 5/8 in.; 45.4 x 37.1 cm
Accession Number:  AC 2001.198
Credit Line:Gift of Thomas P. Whitney (Class of 1937)

Label Text:
The red circle suggests a planet hovering in deep black space, while the small cross-like structure appears to be an approaching spaceship. Throughout the 1920s, many artists worked on actual architectural projects for cosmic floating cities. Chashnik, on the other hand, explored the vision of inhabiting space with the painterly means of geometrical abstraction—the visual language of Suprematism, in other words. Suprematist painting, he said, “advances to the absolute non-objectivity of form,” depicting nothing but independently composed elements and their interrelationship. Purposelessness was the Suprematist ideal. Suprematists accused man of turning everything he could get ahold of into a useful object. The universe, because it was a not-yet functionalized territory, therefore appeared ideal for the exploration of aesthetics and ideas beyond a mundane context.

The red circle and the white cross beneath it form a dynamic composition; while neither of the two shapes is centered, they are well balanced. Nothing is accidental, even the tiny line beneath the vertical axis of the cross adds momentum. Thus the artist invites viewers to behold the painting and let their thoughts float.
BJ, 2014

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