Red Platonism? Kazimir Malevich and Russian Religious Philosophy

Seminars and Colloquia

Kazimir Malevich (1878-1935) is usually perceived as a revolutionary and iconoclast. His position is often presented in the light of Communism or Leninism. Several researchers have argued that Malevich’s “new theology” developed from glorifying God into extolling Lenin. Tatiana Levina started her talk with analysing Malevich’s “Cult of Lenin” and present his ideas on the Communist leader. She juxtaposed these with the metaphysical ideas he discusses in his tractate on Suprematism and showed his position within the circle of the Russian religious philosophy instead. Malevich’s intellectual parallels with religious philosophers Pavel Florensky (1882-1937), Sergey Bulgakov (1871-1944), and many others were the main focus of her talk. He has not usually been perceived as a worshipper of the divine, and she showed his way of glorifying God relying on Meister Eckhart’s negative theology and Gregory Palamas’s hesychasm. His revolutionary rhetoric during the first years of the Communist state, rather, served as an appeal to platonism and idealism.

Tatiana Levina is an independent scholar. She works on philosophy of art, Platonism in the history of philosophy, and philosophy in Russia in the 20th century. Her book, “Abstract Revolution: Platonism in Avant-garde Epoch” will be published in 2022 in Saint Petersburg. She is the author of numerous publications, including the recent journal articles “Overboard from Absolute”. The critique of Kant in Avant-Garde’s Epoch (RSUH/RGGU BULLETIN. Series Philosophy. Social Studies. Art Studies. 2021. No 1), “Liberated Nothingness: Avant-Garde's Eckhart” (RSUH/RGGU Bulletin. Series: Philosophy, Sociology, Art Studies. 2019. No 4),  “Symbol in Georg Cantor and Pavel Florensky” (Philosophy. Journal of the Higher School of Economics, No 4, Vol. II, 2018). She is also interested in the philosophy of Soviet time, as well as women philosophers, and is completing an article entitled “Defending Abstractions: Sofia Yanovskaya between Ideology and Idealism”. 

Clemena Antonova, Research Director of the Eurasia in Global Dialogue Program, was the moderator and commentator of the talk. 


Fellows Colloquia are internal events for the IWM Visiting Fellows and Guests.