About This Artwork

Kazimir Malevich
Russian, born Ukraine, 1878–1935

Painterly Realism of a Football Player - Color Masses in the 4th Dimension, summer/fall 1915

Oil on canvas
27 x 17 1/2 in. (71 x 44.5 cm) (original); 27 5/8 x 17 5/16 in. (70.2 x 44.1 cm) (present)
Inscribed on verso (in Cyrilic) u.c.: Football Player 1915

Through prior gifts of Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection; Mrs. Albert D. Lasker in memory of her husband, Albert D. Lasker; and Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection, 2011.1

During the summer and fall of 1915, Kazimir Malevich secluded himself to prepare for the groundbreaking exhibition 0.10 (Zero-Ten) The Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings. Seeking to push the formal discoveries of Cubism and Futurism to their limits, to find the most essential core—the “zero”—of painting, Malevich produced a series of completely abstract works that he declared constituted an entirely new system of art. Suprematism, as he called the new style, eradicated all references to the natural world and focused instead on the inherent relationships between colored geometric shapes against the void of a subtly textured white background. In the exhibition catalogue he warned, “In naming some of the paintings I do not wish to point out what form to seek in them, but I wish to indicate that real forms were approached in many cases as the ground for formless painterly masses from which a painterly picture was created, quite unrelated to nature.” Painterly Realism of a Football Player—Color Masses in the 4th Dimension belongs to this very first group of Suprematist works. The subtitle refers to the mathematical theory of fourth dimensional space, a concept appropriated by many early twentieth-century artists to justify their representation of truths beyond immediate sensory perception.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Petrograd, Galerie Dobychina, 0,10 (Zero-Ten). The Last Futurist Exhibition of Painting, December 19, 1915–January 19, 1916, cat. 40, as Painterly Realism of a Football Player—Color Masses in the 4th Dimension [installation photograph].

Moscow, Sixteenth State Exhibition, One-Man Exhibition, K. S. Malevich, opened March 25, 1920, no cat. [installation photograph (showing work hung in the reverse orientation)].

Warsaw, Polish Art Club, Exhibition of Kazimir Malevich, March 20-27, 1927, no cat. [installation photograph (showing work hung in the reverse orientation)].

Berlin, Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung, Sonderausstellung Malevich, May 7–September 30, 1927 [installation photograph].

Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, First Showing of the Malevich Collection, December 1957–January 1958, no cat.

Braunschweig Kunstverein, Malevich, February 16–March 16, 1958, cat. 23 (ill.), as Fußballmatch.

Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Casimir Malevich (1878–1935), May 21–June 15, 1958, cat. 23, as Match de football.

Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art, Paintings from the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, January 7–February 4, 1959; traveled to Milwaukee Art Center, February 12–March 12, 1959; Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, March 20–April 20, 1959; Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, April 27–May 24, 1959, cat. 47, as Football Match.

London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Kasimir Malevich, 1878–1935, October–November, 1959, p. 16, cat. 23.
Humlebaek, Denmark, Louisiana Museum, Malevich, March 25–April 25, 1960, cat. 23 (ill.), as Fodboldkamp.

Ulmer Museum, Malevich, October 1–29, 1961, no cat.
Neue Galerie der Stadt Linz, Kasimir Malevich, 1878–1935, December 14, 1961–January 14, 1962; traveled to Vienna, Galerie Würthle, January 25–February 17, 1962, cat. 15, as Fußballmatch.

Leverkusen, Städtisches Museum, Kasimir Malevich, March 10–April 1, 1962, cat. 15, as Fußballmatch.

Winterthur, Kunstmuseum, Malevich, April 13–May 27, 1962, cat. 15 (ill.), as Fußballmatch.

Kunsthalle Bern, Marcel Duchamp, Wassily Kandinsky, Kasimir Malewitsch, Josef Albers, Tom Doyle, October 23–November 29, 1964, cat. 15, as Fußballmatch.

Stockholm, Moderna Museet, Inner and Outer Space: An Exhibition Devoted to Universal Art, December 26, 1965–February 13, 1966, cat. 35, as Parallellogram, purpur.

New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Kazimir Malevich, November 16, 1973–January 13, 1974; traveled to Pasadena Museum of Modern Art, January 28–March 25, 1974, no cat.

Paris, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Malevich, March 14–May 15, 1978, p. 84, cat. 28, as Match de football.

Washington D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Dreams and Nightmares: Utopian Visions in Modern Art, December 8, 1983–February 12, 1984, pp. 49, 50 (color ill.), 178, cat. 16, as Soccer Match.

Tokyo, National Museum of Western Art, Space in European Art: Council of Europe Exhibition in Japan, March 28–June 14, 1987, p. 290–91 (color ill.), cat. 117, as Football Match.

Leningrad, Russian Museum; Kazimir Malevich, November 10–December 18, 1988; traveled to Moscow, State Tretyakov Gallery, December 29, 1988–February 10, 1989; Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, March 5–May 29, 1989, pp. 47 (installation photograph), 134 (color ill.), 157 (installation photograph), 169 (installation photograph), 271, cat. 49, as Suprematism: Painterly Realism of a Football-Player, Color Masses of the Fourth Dimension.

Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Kazimir Malevich, 1878–1935, September 16–November 4, 1990; traveled to Los Angeles, Armand Hammer Museum of Art, November 28, 1990–January 1, 1991; New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, February 7–March 24, 1991, pp. 75 (color ill.), 209, cat. 47, as Suprematism: Painterly Realism of a Football-Player, Color Masses of the Fourth Dimension.

Bonn, Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Europa, Europa: Das Jahrhundert der Avantgarde in Mittel und Osteuropa, May 27–October 16, 1994, vol. 1, pp. 138 (installation photograph), 152 (color ill.); vol. 2, p. 163, as Suprematismus: Fußballspieler.

Berlin, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Die Epoche der Moderne Kunst im 20. Jahrhundert, May 7–July 27, 1997, p. 230 (color ill.), cat. 130, as Suprematismus: Malerischer Realismus eines Fußballspielers; translated as Christos M. Joachimides and Norman Rosenthal, eds., The Age of Modernism: Art in the Twentieth Century (Berlin: Zeitgeist-Gesellschaft; Ostfildern-Ruit: G. Hatje, 1997).

New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Kazimir Malevich: Suprematism, May 13–September 7, 2003; traveled to Berlin, Deutsche Guggenheim, January 14–April 27, 2003; Houston, The Menil Collection, October 3, 2003–January 11, 2004, p. 23 (installation photograph), 24 (color ill.), 25–26, 146 (color ill.), 253, 254 (installation photograph), 256 (installation photograph), as Suprematism: Painterly Realism of a Football-Player (Color Masses of the Fourth Dimension).

New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Malevich in Focus: 1912–1922, February 19–June 30, 2010, no cat.

New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Geometry of Kandinsky and Malevich, July 9–September 7, 2010, no cat.

New York, Malevich and the American Legacy, Gagosian Gallery, March 3–April 30, 2011, pp. 36-37 (installation photograph), 48-49 (color ill.), 52-53 (installation photograph), 176-77, 180, 181-82, 218-219 (installation photograph), 226-27 (installation photograph), 236 (color ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Test, October 29, 2017–January 15, 2018, cat. 94.

Publication History

Henryk Stazewski, “Malevich,” in MUBA (Muse Baro Apzvalga), no. 1, 1928, n.p. (ill.).

Praesens, no. 2, 1930, p. 107 (ill.).

Art Contemporain/Sztuka wspolczesna, no. 3, 1930, p. 89 (ill.).

Jan Brzekowski, Pri l' Moderna Arto, ed. Salo Grenkamp-Kornfeld (Budapest: Literatura Mondo, 1933), p. 32 (ill.), cat. 38.

Margot Aschenbrenner, “Farben und Formen im Work von Kasimir Malewitsch 1878–1935,” in Quadrum IV, 1957, pp. 101, 103, (color ill.).

Troels Andersen, Malevich: Catalogue Raisonné of the Berlin Exhibition 1927, including the Collection in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum, 1970), pp. 72 (color ill.), 94, cat. 51.

Christoph Brockhaus and Manfred Fath, eds., Malewitsch-Mondrian, Konstruktion als Konzept: Alexander Dorner gewidmet (Ludwigshafen: Wilhelm Hack Museum, 1977), p. 31 (installation photograph).

Larissa A. Zhadova, Malevich: Suprematism and Revolution in Russian Art 1910–1930 (London: Thames and Hudson, 1978), pp. 62 (ill.), 255 (installation photograph), 257 (installation photograph), 363, cat. 45.

Jean Claude Marcadé, ed., Malévitch: Colloque International Kazimir Malévitch (Lausanne: L’Age d’Homme, 1979), p. 238 (ill.), cat. 86.

Charlotte Douglas, Swans of Other Worlds: Kazimir Malevich and the Origins of Abstraction in Russia (Ann Arbor, Mich.: UMI Research Press, 1980), p. 60, 123, fig. 11 (installation photograph).

Linda Dalrymple Henderson, The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), p. 287.

Andréi Nakov, Malevitch Écrits (Paris: Champ libre, 1986), between pp. 78 and 79, fig. 30 (installation photograph).

Heiner Stachelhaus, Kasimir Malewitsch: Ein tragischer Konflikt (Dusseldorf: Claassen, 1989), p. 154 (installation photograph).

Luigi Paolo Finizio, L’Astrattismo Costruttivo: Suprematismo e Costruttivismo (Rome: Laterza, 1990), pp. 24 (installation photograph), 25 (ill.), 38.

Evgenija Petrova, et al., Malevich: Khudozhnik i Teoretik (Moscow: Avant-Garde, 1990), pp. 15 (installation photograph), 19 (installation photograph), 23 (installation photograph), 108–9, fig. 103 (color ill.), 236; translated as Malevitch: Artiste et Théoricien, ed.

Michel Draguet, trans. Alexandre Bagaev (Moscow and Paris: Avant-Garde, 1990); and Malevich: Artist and Theoretician, trans. Sharon McKee (Paris: Flammarion, 1990).

Patricia Railing, On Suprematism, 34 drawings: A little handbook of Suprematism, vol. 1 (Forest Row, East Sussex, England: Artists Bookworks, 1990), pp. 20 (ill.), 34 (installation photograph), 35 (ill.).

Rainer Crone and David Moos, Kazimir Malevich, The Climax of Disclosure (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), pp. 27, fig. 18 (installation photograph), 146, fig. 108 (color ill.), 154, fig. 114 (installation photograph), 156, 201, fig. 147 (installation photograph), 203, fig. 151 (installation photograph), 204, fig. 152 (installation photograph).

Serge Fauchereau, Malevich (New York: Rizzoli, 1993), p. 22–3 (ill.), 42 (two installation photographs).

Elena B. Basner, et al., Kazimir Malevic: Una retrospectiva, exh. cat. (Florence: Artificio, 1993), pp. 47 (installation photograph), 250 (installation photograph), 254 (installation photograph).

Elena Basner and Evgenija Petrova, Malevich: Colleción del Museo Estatal Ruso, exh. cat. (Madrid: Fundación Juan March, 1993), p. 95 (installation photograph).

Dmitrii Sarabianov and Aleksandra Shatskikh, Kazimir Malevich: Zhivopis’ Teoriya (Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1993), pp. 93 (color ill.), 412, cat. 65, as Suprematism: Painterly Realism of Football Player. Color Masses of the Fourth Dimension.

Linda S. Boersma, 0,10: The Last Futurist Exhibition of Painting (Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 1994), p. 56-7 (installation photograph), 77.

Charlotte Douglas, Kazimir Malevich (New York: Abrams, 1994), p. 23 (installation photograph).

Mark Rosenthal, Abstraction in the Twentieth Century: Total Risk, Freedom Discipline, exh. cat. (New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1996), pp. 12–13, fig. 9 (color ill.), 307.

John Milner, Kazimir Malevich and the Art of Geometry (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996), pp. 121 (installation photograph), 142–43 (color ill.).

Bruno Duborgel, Malevitch: La question de l’icône (Saint-Étienne: L’Université de Saint-Étienne, 1997), p. 160 (installation photograph).

Paul Coumans et al., Sandberg + Mondrian (Amersfoort: De Zonnehof, 1997), p. 54, cat. 130 (color ill.)

Patricia Railing, ed., Malevich on Suprematism, Six Essays: 1915 to 1926 (Iowa City: University of Iowa, Museum of Art, 1999), p. 15 (installation photograph).

Hans Peter Riese, Kasimir Malewitsch (Hamburg: Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, 1999), pp. 60 (installation photograph), 107 (installation photograph).

John Golding, Paths to the Absolute: Mondrian, Malevich, Kandinsky, Pollock, Newman, Rothko, Still (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), pp. 60, fig. 40 (installation photograph), 67–8, fig. 46 (color ill.), 236.

Mel Gooding, Abstract Art (London: Tate Publishing, 2001), pp. 14 (installation photograph), 16, fig. 3 (color ill.), 17.

Andréi Nakov, Kazimir Malevicz: Catalogue raisonné (Paris: Adam Biro, 2002), p. 182 (ill.), cat. S-14.

Andrzej Turowski, Malewicz w Warszawie: Rekonstrukcje i Symulacje (Krakow: Universitas, 2004), p. 86, fig. 30 (color ill.), 158, fig. 54 (installation photograph), 163, 167, fig. 59 (installation photograph), 173, fig. 67 (installation photograph), 177, pl. VIII (installation photograph, color ill.), 186–88, fig. 84 (installation photograph, color ill.), 193, pl. IX (installation photograph, color ill.), 215 (installation photograph), 278.

Gilles Néret, Kazimir Malevich, 1878–1935, and Suprematism (Cologne: Taschen, 2003), p. 51, 54 (installation photograph).

Andréi Nakov, Kazimir Malewicz: Le peintre absolu, vol. 2 (Paris: Thalia Edition, 2006), pp. 50–51 (installation photograph), 80 (color ill.), 88–93, 291 (installation photograph), 428.

Hubertus Gassner, Das schwarze Quadrat: Hommage an Malewitsch (Hamburg: Hamburger Kunsthalle, 2007), p. 17 (installation photograph).

Andrei Nakov, “Devices, Style and Realization: Professionalism in Malewicz’s Painting,” Artibus et Histoire, no. 57 (2008), p. 224, fig. 67 (color ill.).

Jerry Souter, Malevich: Journey to Infinity (New York: Parkstone International, 2008), pp. 122, 126–27 (color ill.).

Andréi Nakov, Black and White: A Suprematist Composition of 1915 by Kazimir Malevich (Gottingen: Steidl, 2009), p. 16–17 (installation photograph).

John Milner, “Suprematism.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online (2007–2010) http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T082379

Rosanna Negrotti, "Acquisition of the Year," Apollo 174, 593 (December 2011), p. 72 (color ill.).

Matthew S. Witkovsky and Devin Fore, ed. Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Text. Exh. Cat. Art Institute of Chicago, 2017, cat. 94, pp. 54–55 (ill.), 299.

Ownership History

The artist (d. 1935); by descent to the artist’s heirs; sold to the Art Institute of Chicago, January 2011.

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