Woman with a Rake by Kazimir Malevich

The Worker

If I didn’t know better, I might think this was a woman

from the old Russian agricultural collectives of the 1950s

but it was done in 1912, much earlier than the kolkhozs

so maybe it’s a depiction of a peasant woman on lands

owned by the aristocracy and known as serfdoms.

The artist, a Polish immigrant, painted in the avant-garde

style popular known as suprematism, a form based

on geometric designs. Marcel Duchamp’s “Nude Descending

a Staircase” was painted the same year in Paris, as was Picasso’s

“Man with a Violin” and Braque’s “Girl with a Guitar.”

The woman presented is solid, holding a rake against

a background of fields and a horizon of silos and a Khrushchyovka

(those cheap 3 to 5 story concrete apartment buildings erected in the 1960s).

Strange, how futuristic this painting seems to be, depicting images

in Soviet history that the artist could not have known. He died in 1935.

Maybe his images transcended time.

Maybe woman as worker and grower represents a more

realistic depiction than women painted as angels or flowery

dancers or decorative beauties or reclining nudes.

Maybe his image is the more universal icon.