Chapter 31 of the 4th volume of my 2007 monograph Kazimir Malewicz, le peintre absolu, Thalia Edition, Paris (“Malevich: Painting the Absolute”, London, 2010) is entitled “Devices, Style and Realisation”. I felt that although this text covers technical details directed more specifically towards readers with professional training in the field, it would nonetheless be useful to anyone interested in Malewicz’s actual painting as well as his ideas. With this in mind, in this chapter I tried to emphasise the lyrical nature of the artist’s pictorial procedure, which in my view is the path to perception of the real expressive nature of Suprematism. In writing this text, which was originally intended as part of my 2002 Catalogue raisonné, I had to make some difficult decisions as to the extent of the technical details relating to the painter’s practice (forgers are always on the alert !).
This was greatly rewarded after the text was published in French, when it immediately drew the attention of specialists in old master’s ( and old master’s expertise, study and technique) , and I was asked by Artibus et Historiae, the scholarly art journal focused particularly on traditional art history, to bring it out in English (see “Devices, Style and Realisation: Professionalism in Malewicz’s Painting Technique” in Artibus et Historiae, no. 57 (vol. XXIX), Vienna-Cracow, 2008, pp. 183-239, an updated translation of chapter 31 in Kazimir Malewicz. Le peintre absolu, Paris 2007, Vol IV).
This publication furthermore enabled me to correct certain shortcomings that occurred in my original text, which therefore appears in an improved version in the English edition of 2010.
Discussions with professionals – museum conservators and restorers, and particularly Louise Wijnberg at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and Olga Klenova in St. Petersburg – later confirmed my convictions and the soundness of the methodological approach I put forward. I had also been waiting for years to see the restoration of the Amsterdam museum’s paintings, which was eventually undertaken in the wake of the 1989 exhibition and completed quite recently. It was only after this restoration that the arguments underlying my opinions could be seen to be justified.
The matter was all the more important to me because I had in the past (rarely so, it is true) been in disagreement with other opinions concerning the attribution of certain works which I unhesitatingly confirmed as being by Malewicz, and others which I rejected no less forcefully.
The British journal ArtWatch UK recently published an article by Alexander Adams (see “Malevich Restorations Questioned”, no. 28, Winter 2012, p. 19) giving a positive review of Chapter 31 of my “Malevich, Painting the Absolute” (Lund Humphries, London 2012. His comments support the solid grounding of the methodological part concerning the connoisseurship demonstrated in my work.