Red Cavalry by Kazimir Malevich

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Philip S
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From a review of an art exhibition:
Kazimir Malevich's Red Cavalry of 1932-the last year with any scope left for ambiguity in Soviet art before socialist realism was pronounced the one true style-was a response to increasing pressure on him, one of the originators of abstract painting, to return to figuration. It is still partly abstract, with kilim-like colored stripes representing land below a pale sky that shades upward into indigo; but over the land thunder 12 rows of schematic Red Cavalry, as though crossing the endless plains of central Russia, in pursuit of an enemy to eliminate. Nothing in the picture, however, indicates whether their cause is good or evil, whether the horsemen are heroic or vicious. Since all of Malevich's other figurative paintings of the time show heads without faces-an oblique commentary on the Soviet dream of cloning Communist Man socially, if not genetically-it is fair to conclude that the artist did not intend his Red Cavalry to be seen as wholly heroic-though one could interpret them that way if proceeding from the premise of their heroism.