Khlebnikov’s ideas, not Marinetti’s, dominate Russian futurism and its most sensational creation, the opera Victory Over the Sun. In the same year Stravinsky stormed Paris, the St Petersburg futurists staged an opera about a group of astronauts who wage war on the sun, kill it and bury it. With the sun dead, a new reality is defined by what became Russian modern art’s fundamental image: a pure black square – painted by artist Kasimir Malevich onto the opera’s backcloth. This is the end point, the birthplace of a new cosmos. Malevich announced this new art when he exhibited a painting of a black square in 1915 in a show, called The Last Futurist Exhibition, in St Petersburg.
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