Letter to Aleksandr S. Nikolsky – K. MALEVICH
Dear Aleksandr Sergeevich,
Much time has passed since the two groups representing Suprematism and the new architecture met. The “reaction in life” is rearing its head more and more. I can foresee that after the destruction of the painterly front of the new art, whose representatives will be driven underground, a time will come when the representatives of the old forms will also lead the attack on the new forms of architecture. The expansion and unification of all the sympathizers of the new architecture must be the slogan of the day for the conquest and implementation of the new forms. I believe that you and your colleagues are coming closer to our position and I think that you will not deny that we Suprematists provide a form that does not contradict the sensations of yourself and the entire group that shares your point of view.
I believe that as soon as you will review the entire line of development of Suprematist architecture, you will arrive at the same conclusion that I have after reviewing all of the Suprematism-like Western architecture, namely that Suprematist architekton with its architectural sense is on a higher level than Western architecture.
You will see that the “flatlike appearance” of Western architecture is only the result of the influence of “Suprematism-like” painting. There is still a great deal of distance from the sensation of the painterly to the sensation of the three-
dimensional architectural massive. Western architects haven’t so far noticed what I told architects in Berlin, while Polish architects have undertaken the study of architecture from this perspective. I won’t hide the fact that there is a Western imprint on your models as well.
Recognizing the importance and significance of the architectural movement, which in the West has reached enormous proportions, manifesting itself in the creation of an entire team for the development of one motif, I feel that it would be necessary to create such a team in the USSR.
However, under the conditions of the development of the Suprematist architectural front against the Constructivist front, which “swims in the clear water” of the speculative functionality of a building’s construction, and which is already
making sorties through the functionalism of life to form. You cannot deny that our nineteenth century is a century of a lack of form and only with the appearance of the new art did we notice the raising of the question of form. The dictatorship of speculation is increased by speculative functions.
The constructivists fully supported this business and Gan for the first time in a reference to me began to speak of form In this way we can notice (the indications) of some sort of ideological rapprochement. But so far only words have been spoken, but we already have form that has appeared not on the basis of speculative life but on the artistic basis of art. Can they refute my idea that life is always impoverished, and we artists following the abstract path always find the form- in which life is enveloped.
Thus we stand on the verge of a new classicism and the basic motif for the development of this new classical epoch must be Architektonic Suprematism.
Certainly, for the elaboration of this entire question, not only Suprematists, but architects as well, must be included so that a new front of architecture can be created.
Consequently, my group and I would like to propose to you and your group the development of the Suprematist architectural front by including many architects in our ranks.
P. S. I remember that at our first meeting you raised the question of attribution. I believe that this question can be well resolved by a division of functions: the form and its “constricture,” i.e., we will call the artistic side and the engineering, in that case the authorship of an entire building will be assigned to two authors: The authors of Suprematist formation and the authors of Suprematist design.
Secondly, if a member of the Suprematist group makes Suprematist architecture independently, without the participation of a Suprematist formation — in and of itself — the authorship will belong to the Suprematist engineer.
But if the members of Suprematism take part in its construction, then the degree of the authorship will depend on the degree of the work done. I think that these are purely material questions that can be resolved in the same degree of co-authorship, i.e. the proportion of work done by each worker performing one task or another.
And so, if your group agrees with the basic point of the development of the Suprematist architectural front, I request that you set forth in writing your motives and requests and proposals which will lead closer to a merger. It is somehow better to lay out one’s thoughts and position on paper …