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This painting is dated at 1903, placing it very early in the career of Kazimir Malevich. It is Impressionist in style, but the artist would eventually move away from this approach as his career developed.
A bright sky lights the entire scene within this painting, with a hill or small building found in the distance. There is a fence made of small wooden stakes which dots across the foreground and hanging on it is a series of clothing which dries in the wind. The artist was always interested in the lives of the poor, particularly in more rural areas and he would normally capture their lives in a relatively positive manner. Underwear on Fence could almost be based in France within the Impressionist era and it is no coincidence that Malevich worked in this manner early in his career. His training as a student would focus on this style and so inevitably he would begin his early career following in a similar artistic direction. It was only as he developed his ideas that he realised his preference for more modern artistic styles and they would eventually dominate across the main body of his oeuvre.
When we examine this particular painting it is hard to imagine that in just a few years the same artist would be releasing such extraordinarily abstract work, where forms are reduced down to arrangements of squares, circles and lines. His best in that approach would include the likes of Dynamic Suprematism, Red Square and Black Cross. Those would become the way in which most people think about his career in the present day and they continue to receive considerable interest within the media. There are still plenty of followers of the artist who look a little deeper into his career and enjoy understanding more about the development that he went through across the various decades of his lifetime, which started with paintings such as that found in front of us here.
A number of other European artists would also take on the mantle of the Abstract art movement, each with their own unique take. A key contributor was Piet Mondrian who gifted us the likes of Composition with Red, Blue and Yellow, Broadway Boogie Woogie and Victory Boogie Woogie. He also worked in more traditional ways for a number of years before slowly transitioning into the world of abstract art, moving further and deeper until at the point where reality was pretty much lost completely. It would help Malevich to have others working with a similar style elsewhere in Europe, as he himself felt opressed at times within his native Russia.