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Three female Figures might well be the smallest artwork left over from the career of Kazimir Malevich, with it measuring a tiny 7cm in width by 10cm in height, approximately. The artist completed it in circa 1905–1906.
Malevich would have been in his mid to late twenties at the time of this painting and very much at the beginning of his professional career. For several years he would produce all manner of different artworks which jumped from one style to the next, from one genre to the next, and there seemed little chance of him settling down with a consistent approach at this point. This was an artists experimenting as much as he could and this period brought about some great innovations within his work. Figurative paintings, such as this, were fairly common and he tended to follow contemporary styles for them, avoiding too much detail and relying on simple forms and a strong use of colour. It would be later on that he started to move into a truly abstract world, where shapes would form the simplest of compositions and any connection to the real world would appear to have been lost completely. That would create the signature look with which all could remember his career, but in truth his oeuvre was much more mixed and rich than many today give him credit for.
Within Three female Figures we discover what appears to be perhaps a foreign setting, such as North Africa or the Middle East, as judging by the clothing worn here. Three figures with cloths of their heads and fairly thick outfits make their way across the scene. They appear to be within a fairly open environment, such as a desert or other area sparse of much architecture or foliage. The painting is cropped in a manner that leaves more questions than it answers, as no room is allowed for much else other than the three portrait figures. There is also the possibility that actually these are traditional East European style outfits, hard-wearing and entirely suitable for the lives of ordinary people and so this connection perhaps with Orientalism may be completely wide of the mark. Malevich did feature local peasants and farm workers within his paintings many times, but it is perhaps the flood of light which gives it more of an exotic feel.
This artwork can now be found in the collection of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, where it sits alongside a number of works by other great names from the 20th century. Those interested in art history will find contemporary art particularly well served here, and other periods are then covered elsewhere in the city, such as with the work of Rembrandt. The city itself offers an incredible selection of cultural pursuits and this helps to make it one of the most visited cities in Europe every year, even though it is actually relatively small in size as compared to the likes of London and Paris. The Dutch have a long history in art which deserves to be celebrated today and in order to make their collections more varied and interesting, they have also acquired work from abroad from time to time, just as in this case with several Malevich paintings and drawings.