23.04.17 – UNOVIS as an Instrument of the World Revolution of the Spirit


In the autumn of 1919 Kazimir Malevich (one of the leaders of Russian avant-garde art) was invited for a job as a teacher in the Vitebsk Art School. After that in January 1920 there was formed a group of artists-suprematists named UNOVIS (approvers of new art). Malevich was spreading the ideas of suprematism in all forms of art, spiritual culture in the created around him group of educators, student and like-minded people, who were able to uphold the principles of the new revolutionary art. In February 1920 Vitebsk hosted the first UNOVIS exhibition, the performance of the suprematist Opera “Victory over the Sun” and the suprematist Ballet. After the All-Russian Congress of art students in June 1920 UNOVIS was supported by the branches of the organization in a number of cities in Russia: Smolensk, Orenburg, Perm, etc. According to Malevich, UNOVIS was to become a party of suprematists in art.

The artist’s and his followers’ work is linked to extensive art practice, presented at the exhibitions of the association. Also it is linked to a number of publications devoted to the problems of revolutionary art, as well as to the experience of the formation of a new pedagogical system of art education.

Alexander Lisov is the associate professor of the Department of World History and World Culture of the Vitebsk State University named after P.M. Masherov, candidate of Art History, member of the Belarusian Union of Artists. He will tell about these new practices, about the peculiarities of the pedagogical system, and also about the role played by UNOVIS in the cultural landscape of Vitebsk.

Alexander Lisov
Author of more than 200 scientific publications. He participated in ICCEES international congresses in Tampere (Finland), Berlin (Germany), Stockholm (Sweden), conferences in Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, USA, Germany, France, Canada. He is a member of the Society of Historians of Russian Art and Architecture in Eastern Europe (SHERA), member of the Board of Directors of the International Foundation El Lissitzky (Netherlands). His areas of ​​scientific interests: fine art of Belarus in the 19th and 20th centuries, the history of the Vitebsk art school, the art of the Russian avant-garde, the works of Russian artists abroad, the works of Kazimir Malevich and artists from his entourage, the early period of the biography and creative work of Marc Chagall, the art of El Lissitzky.

On the photo: Nikolai Suetin. Design of the railroad wagon of Unovis. From the collection of the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg