Seite 220 - ArtBook

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masterstroke, it is clear that froman early agewemake a distinction between por-
traiture and landscape, not as a genre but as a distinct way of representing theworld
around us, revealing our concernwith both the viewing in and the viewing out of our
limited environment. By contrast, the central building in
is a pure, vertical
rectangle on a stripy background, with the edges of the painting forming an outer
­rectanglewith exactly the same proportions as the house itself.
Indeed, it is not really ahouse but a red rectangle swimming ina sea of complementary
colours (albeit contradictory inparts).Theflat colours,whichare left as separatehues,
suggest a childlike approach to expressingmeaning that is highly inaccurate in rep-
resentational terms. Indeed, if the viewerwas unaware of the title, andwas shownonly
adetail of the canvas,he or shewouldbeunable to identify the representational content.
By contrast, an isolated fragment of a classical landscapepaintingwould remain rec-
ognisable as adepictionof skyor land, object or person.Admittedly, once the idea of it
being ahouse is accepted, some further uncertaintieswill arise: is it a cuboidwithaflat
roof puncturedby three chimneys or is it aflat façade toppedby apitched roof with three
dormers?Does it sit inaperspectival landscape or does it sit on topof aworld shown
in cross-section revealing several geological layers?Are theundulatingblues above the
white band the representationof a rolling seaprecededby a large beach?Or does the
black line represent thehorizon, abovewhichmenacing clouds are gathering?Does the
redpaint depict brickwork, or does it simply represent theOctoberRevolution?
Howevermuchwemay puzzle over the painting’smeaning, one thing is glaringly
obvious: the house (representedwith a single façade) lacks any aperture orwindow.
This is likely to be the first thing any childwouldhave identified as a cardinal ingre-
dient indepicting a house or a home.The deliberate absence of windowsmay be
explained as ametaphor,with the building representing themutedpowerhouse of the
Revolution.Nevertheless, beyond such a reading, it remains shocking that the house
lacks an opening of any sort allowing for humanhabitation. Even thoughwe canbe
certain thatMalevichwanted the central element to be read as a house (as per the title),
hemade sure that we remain adrift in terms of its height, number of floors, andpoten-
tial use or purpose. Crucially, the lack of the key ingredient of awindow, or even the
trace of awindow, denies us a sense of proportion. If he haddeemed it necessary, he
might easily have added a set of windows inproportion to the building and reminis-
cent of a Renaissance compositional canon,without doing awaywith the bold, child-
like action of adding paint to surface. It is perhapsmost interesting to suggest that the
painting itself is a portrait depicting a landscape, and the one real window is the one
throughwhichwe perceiveMalevich’sworld and beholdwhat he observes and records.
Nearly one hundred years beforeMalevich painted his
,WilliamHenry Fox
Talbotmanaged to print the outline of a latticedwindow through the then unknown
process of photographic printing.Today,
LatticedWindowat LacockAbbey
(1835) is