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Yulia Griber. «The town-planning painting and kazimir malevich»

Kazimir Malevich is well known as a prominent painter. However, he also had a lot of interesting ideas about color design in urban space, and his town-planning painting had a significant impact on the color development of cities.

The book is devoted to the description and the systematization of Malevich's strategies for color design in urban space.

The starting point is the thesis that we have been using color to create idiosyncrasies in urban space as long as we have been living in cities. Color in a city is accessible to individual citizens or «actors» who desire a means of self-expression and control of the impression they wish to make upon others. However, together with these individual actors in the color space of the city we find collective actors as well, and the influence of these actors on color characteristics of the city is much more essential. Having a great amount of resources, the collective actors «modify the city» by use of color. Collective actors can create color illusions implying that urban spaces have particular qualities that are not present in reality.

The political power of color in the color design of urban space was extensively used in socialist societies. Architects were working at the creation of a visual environment that corresponded to the socialistic structure. A rather exact and idealized image was produced, which transformed the architecture itself.

Malevich obviously realized that socialism changed not only the political system but also the ideology of people. It created new conditions for the development of color planning and urban color design, forced new ways for the production and distribution of color images in urban culture. His idea was that architects could not get rid of the existing architecture; however, they were able to use that accumulated architectural material as a basis for expressing new ideas by means of color.

The book consists of 5 parts. The first part demonstrates the ideas of Malevich on how color functions as an important symbol in town-planning and how a new color «edition» helps to change the impressions about the existing social structure of urban society, and also serves as a means of promotion of some quarters, districts and even whole towns.

The second part of the monograph presents the description of the main results of Malevich's experimental research into the role of color in the built environment. These studies include the principles of scenic architecture, the Architectons and Planits, Suprematism, facade coloration, and architectural painting of Malevich, implemented in 1919 in Vitebsk.

The third part analyses the principles of form and space organization in Malevich's projects.

The fourth part characterizes the color structure, color constellations, and how they contribute to the creation of spatial illusion in the city.

An important aim of the fifth part is the examination of the impact of unique methods (the phenomenon of «matrix», color-structuring of space, etc.) and ideas of Malevich (Architectons, Planits, Spatial Suprematism) on contemporary and subsequent architectural color usage. In particular, it reveals the link between the work of Malevich to Russian avant-garde projects, especially to abstract axonometric compositions of geometric solids such as the Prouns of El Lissitzky. It also shows the ways in which the ideas of Malevich continue to exist in the modern popular culture of the city.

The conclusion of the book points out the great theoretical importance of Malevich's ideas on urban color design to the development of conceptual and methodological approaches toward the study of color phenomena in architecture and urban planning. The systematization of Malevich's strategies of color planning has not only theoretical but practical significance as well. This is a new chapter in color education, and will be used in the restoration and reclamation of monuments as well as in new construction.

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