Kazimir Malevich
The Russian avant garde artist Kazimir Malevich. Image via Wikimedia Commons

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The 340-page collection dates from 1913, shortly after his return from his visit to Paris which had a seminal effect on his art, and ends just before his death from cancer in 1935. It will be estimated at £150,000-250,000.

Bonhams said the correspondence “traces his development as an artist, theorist and defender of Suprematism”.

The collection was formed by the writer and art collector Nikolai Ivanovich Khardzhiev (1903-96), who was the editor of works by Vladimir Mayakovsky and a friend of fellow avant garde poet Anna Akhmatova.

Bonhams head of books and manuscripts Matthew Haley said: “This is probably the most important archive of Malevich’s letters and writings still in private hands. Malevich’s place in art history is assured but his correspondence also reveals a witty and shrewd observer, a good friend, and a likeable and courageous man of great warmth and humour.”

Kazimir Malevich archive at Bonhams

An archive of correspondence and writings from Kazimir Malevich, estimated at £150,000-250,000 at Bonhams.

Some of the letters show some of Malevich’s frustrations with the Soviet system. In one letter he complains that, as the bread ration was given only to those who worked, he had to pretend his wife was his secretary, and had resorted to posting bread to himself from Leningrad when he was in the countryside.

In a letter to The People’s Commissar of Enlightenment from 1921, he wrote: “It’s too bad that Pravda [the official newspaper of the Communist Party, and the Russian word for Truth] has taken control of all the truth.”

The archive also contains several poignant letters written during his final illness, including some where he nostalgically recalls halcyon summers spent in the countryside. He wrote to the poet Grigorii Petnikov in 1934: “The soft, objectless sound of the wind in the forest is pleasant to us for it is not the noise of the city, not the music of mankind, but the music of objectless nature.”

Kazimir Malevich archive at Bonhams

One of the manuscripts from the Kazimir Malevich archive that is being offered at Bonhams.

In another undated letter to Petnikov, he wrote of the style and theory that he developed in his 1913 trip to Paris, which led to his famous Suprematist work Black Square in 1915: “The Black Square is the reality of life… It is not the death of Art, but the death of the object in art.”