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Kontrast und Wissen

Kasimir Malewitschs suprematistische Formenmotive und die Wissenschaft

Rehm, Robin

Zeitschrift für Ästhetik und Allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft, Bd. 54 (2009), Iss. 1: S. 69–102

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Rehm, Robin


Malevich’s main Suprematist works, such as ›Black Square‹, ›Black Circle‹, and ›Black Cross‹ from 1915, consist of black shapes on white ground. Surprisingly this series of shapes strongly resembles scientific black-and-white images used for research on colour theory, physiological optics, and psychology throughout the 19th century. This paper examines the parallels between Malevich’s paintings and the scientific drawings in three steps: It first characterizes black-and-white images in general, using Edmund Husserl’s definition of the term ›contrast‹. Secondly, the paper investigates the development and function of black-and-white images as tools of perception in the sciences. It finally discusses the specific knowledge generated through Malevich’s art and through scientific black-and-white images, following Max Scheler’s phenomenological identification of knowledge.