Abstraction has long been acknowledged to be one of the key concepts in twentieth-century art. The artists of the Russian avant-garde, above all Wassily Kandinsky and Kazimir Malevich, made a leading contribution to the birth and establishment of this exciting phenomenon. Kandinsky painted his first abstract picture in 1911. In 1913, Malevich formulated the necessity of going beyond the bounds of nothing and starting all over again, with the simple form of the square.

Over a period of little more than ten years, Russia produced a dazzling array of artists working in various non-objective forms. Besides Kandinsky and Malevich, there were also Pavel Filonov, Mikhail Matiushin, Lyubov Popova, Alexandra Exter, Olga Rozanova and Alexander Rodchenko – artists now internationally known and celebrated primarily for their contributions to abstract art.

Despite a long interval during the Stalin years, abstraction continued to exist and develop in Russia. Although this movement gave world culture many of its most outstanding names, it remains virtually unknown both outside Russia and in the homeland of one of the leading movements in twentieth-century art.

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