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UNOVIS (Hardeners of the New Art)

  • art collective
1920 – 1922

Affirmers of the new art

Avant-garde art association created by Kazimir Malevich in Vitebsk. The association was an early example of a new type of art group, created - which is typical of the post-revolutionary decade - on the basis of a state institution. The creator of Suprematism, having arrived in Vitebsk, rallied a group of students around him (El Lissitzky, Evgenia Magaril, Nikolai Suetin, Lazar Khidekel, Ilya Chashnik, David Yakerson, Lev Yudin, Nina Kogan, etc.), which included the rector of the institution - Vera Ermolaev. They organized exhibitions and discussions of the work of teachers and students, philosophical debates, and actively participated in the design of the city for revolutionary holidays. However, the loyalty and even the “revolutionary” nature of the “unovis” was the political façade of their suprematist-constructivist program, full of independent aesthetic mysticism, aimed at “creating a pure pictorial image” (as the embodiment of a “new consciousness”), and not “utilitarian necessities” [Malevich , article Unovis, 1921]. All sorts of design developments, including visual agitprop, served only as pedagogical models of this ideal.

The black square was the emblem of the members of UNOVIS, it was sewn to the sleeve. Unovis staged Alexei Kruchenykh's opera "Victory over the Sun" in the form of a Suprematist ballet and rally, as well as "War and Peace" by Vladimir Mayakovsky and was going to stage Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Unovis organized art exhibitions and conferences, published articles by its members.

The relatively short-lived activity of UNOVIS, however, became a milestone in the history of the world avant-garde, giving rise to a number of radical transformations of the traditional artistic language.

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Selected events

Selected Artwork Series

Selected artworks

Associated institutions

Associated Documents

Selected dates:

1919

The rector of the newly created Folk Art School (later - Free Art Workshops and, finally, the Vitebsk Art and Practical Institute) Vera Ermolaeva invited Kazimir Malevich to lead the painting workshop.

January 17, 1920

Organizational meeting of a group of young cubists.

January 19, 1920

Malevich, Ermolaeva and Lissitzky unite their students in the group "Molposnovis" ("Young Followers of the New Art").

January 28, 1920

The merger of the younger group with the older one: the name "Posnovis" ("Followers of the new art"). Work on rehearsing and writing scenery for Alexei Kruchenykh's opera "Victory over the Sun" and Suprematist ballet. Rallies in the workshops and general at the school about the new art.

February 3, 1920

The program of classes in the workshops of Posnovis was adopted.

February 6, 1920

Speech by Posnovis with a rally-performance "Victory over the Sun" (Suprematist ballet).

April 14, 1920

In view of the fact that the team is not only a follower of the new, but also its revolutionary founder, the name was changed to Unovis - the affirmers of the new art. Kazimir Malevich named his daughter Una, who was born a week later.

1920

A branch of Unovis was opened in Smolensk (led by Polish artists, the spouses Vladislav Strzheminsky and Katarzyna Kobro), as well as branches in Moscow, Perm, Saratov and some other cities. But already quite quickly - in connection with the reorganization of the People's Commissariat of Education and its anti-avant-garde shift "to the right" - working conditions deteriorated sharply. And in terms of everyday life in Vitebsk, it became difficult to live. In the explanatory note of I. T. Gavris, who after Vera Ermolaeva became the acting rector of the art school, it is said: “All non-resident teachers decided to flee Vitebsk because of hunger ... The teachers were starving, Malevich developed tuberculosis because of malnutrition. They sold their own necessary things. There was no support and instruction from both the Glavprofobr and the provincial trade union and trade union bodies.The institute was left to fend for itself.A group of leaders - Kogan, Noskov, Malevich - together with Ermolaeva fled to Petrograd, since there was no hope for an improvement in their financial situation. did not respond to inquiries...

1921

The UNOVIS manifesto was published by Kazimir Malevich in the Vitebsk magazine Art.

May 1922

The first and last graduation of the educational institution took place, out of 10 graduates 8 were members of UNOVIS. Nikolai Suetin, Lazar Khidekel, Ilya Chashnik, Lev Yudin and Nina Kogan, together with several junior students, left for Petrograd in the summer of 1922. The Vitebsk group became part of the GINKhUK (Institute of Artistic Culture) created and led by Malevich.

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