Kazimir Malevich’s painting, Soldier of the First Division, is an unconventional military portrait created in 1914 during World War I. The painting features distinct geometric planes of color, collage elements, and isolated fragments of displaced body parts that are put together in a highly unusual manner. The title refers to the fact that most Russian men under the age of 43 were reservists who might be called up to serve in the war.
Malevich founded the artistic and philosophical school of Suprematism which influenced and set forth theoretical principles for non-objective or abstract art. As an artist, he believed that form could exist independently from any representational subject matter; a principle clearly seen in his use of geometric shapes in Soldier of the First Division.
Moreover, this unique art piece came at a critical moment as it was painted during one of Russia’s most challenging times. The country was struggling with issues such as food shortage and displacement leading up to World War I. In summary, it’s a significant artwork because it represents not only Malevich’s pioneering work but also captures an important moment in history through its inventive depiction of conflict imagery brought about by war time tension between nations.