Toronto Metropolitan University
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Kazimir Malevich: Approaching The New System

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posted on 2021-12-07, 16:30 authored by Irina Lyubchenko
This dissertation examines Kazimir Malevich’s art and writing with a view to establishing that they combine a strain of strict methodological reductionism with an equally well-marked esotericism. It strives to prove that although this feature of Malevich’s work was common among vanguard artists and thinkers, there are also highly idiosyncratic qualities in the way Malevich reconciled these two threads. An ensuing goal of this work is to propose how to complete an unfinished 1927 film script by Kazimir Malevich titled “Artistic and Scientific Film—Painting and Architectural Concerns—Approaching the New Plastic Architectural System.”
The question regarding the confluence of science and mysticism in Malevich’s work— the primary concern of this dissertation—requires tracing in the artist’s art and writings the presence of ideas belonging to these worldviews traditionally considered to be antithetical to each other. This dissertation establishes Malevich’s relationship with mysticism and strains of thought that resemble scientific content and approach. Among the latter, this work investigates Malevich’s interest in the geometry of the fourth dimension, draws parallels between the artist’s concern for visualizing infinity and the problems of set theory, and examines the role of imaginary numbers in Malevich’s worldview. To complete the analysis of Malevich’s exploration of the concept of space prominent in the aforementioned mathematical themes, this dissertation examines the artist’s interest in investigating the space of the cosmos. It also establishes that Malevich’s ideas were not only influenced by the scientific advancements in electromagnetism but also by the theories of thermodynamics, which together with the former relay a view of the world where all processes, organic and inorganic, are understood as the product of the transformation of energy. In Cubism and Futurism: Spiritual Machines and the Cinematic Effect, R. Bruce Elder draws attention to the early twentieth-century thinkers’ view of cinema as an electromagnetic machine. This dissertation examines Malevich’s relationship with the cinematic art and its reception in Russia during Malevich’s most productive years. This work concludes with having satisfied its larger objective: to envision a possible scenario of how Malevich’s unfinished script could unfold. It contains the copy of the original script, its proposed finale, and an essay that outlines how my investigation of Malevich’s intellectual landscape informed the decisions involved in inferring the concluding shot sequences of the artist’s only cinematic work.





  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Communication and Culture

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • Dissertation

Thesis Advisor

R. Bruce Elder