M is for Monochrome

| May 3, 2014

Monochrome paintings are the ones where people tend to exclaim, a painted white canvas I could do that! It’s not Art! This is silly. I understand why one would want to say that, sure of course they could paint anything they wanted a single color but they didn’t in 1918, there wouldn’t be the same ideas behind it when it was radical and it’s not in MOMA now.

Momochrome paintings that explore one color or shades of one color are close to my heart because the Jane Vorhees Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University (where I went to undergrad) has the largest collection of 20th century Russian avant-garde Art outside of Russia.

Monochrome painting starts with the Suprematism and Constructivism movements in Russia with artists Kazimir Malevich and Alexander Rodchenko respectively.

In 1918 Malevich debuted White Square on White. This started the Suprematism movement which he conceived as purely aesthetic and free from any political or social meaning. Therefore the shapes were pure, an exploration of visual language. The name Suprematism refers to the superiority of this style above all past movements.

Rodchenko’s Colour Pure Red, Colour Pure Yellow, Colour Pure Blue, 1921 established the radical nature of monochrome painting.  He wished to reject conventional roles of self expression including painting.