A radical thinker and pioneer of modern art, Malevich was born into an ethnic Polish family in Kiev, his father the manager of a sugar factory. From early paintings of Russian landscapes, agricultural workers and religious scenes, Malevich moved towards abstract painting and his defining invention: Suprematism. A visual language of pure geometric forms on minimal backgrounds – driven by what he called ‘the supremacy of pure feeling’ – the style is epitomised by his Black Square (1915), perhaps the defining work of Modernism. In mid life he temporarily abandoned painting in favour of teaching and writing, and from 1928-1930 taught at the Kiev Art Institute, alongside Alexander Bogomazov. Later he returned to figurative painting, dying in Leningrad of cancer aged 57.