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Painterly Realism of a Football Player—Color Masses in the 4th Dimension

A work made of oil on canvas.

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.


Summer/fall 1915


Kazimir Malevich
Born Kyiv (formerly Russian Empire, now Ukraine), 1878; died Saint Petersburg, 1935

About this artwork

Kazimir Malevich explained in 1921, “In reality, the globe has no bottom, no top, no perspective, no weight—it does not have that most important thing upon which our knowledge of the world is based: relativity.” This statement, which expresses the radical ideas of the Suprematist movement, illuminates Malevich’s belief that art could undermine basic, yet erroneous, assumptions that inform what we accept as “natural” or “normal.”

Breaking from observed reality to focus instead on the relationship between colored geometric forms on a textured white background, Malevich asked viewers to imagine a new type of realism in painting. He invoked this style through the metaphor of a spatial fourth dimension, referenced in the title of this piece, and by displaying the works without frames and refusing to assign them a precise orientation.


On View, Gallery 393


Modern Art


Kasimir Malevich


Painterly Realism of a Football Player—Color Masses in the 4th Dimension

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on canvas


Inscribed on verso (in Cyrilic) u.c.: Football Player 1915


Original: 71 × 44.5 cm (27 × 17 1/2 in.); Present: 70.2 × 44.1 cm (27 5/8 × 17 5/16 in.)

Credit Line

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

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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