Racist joke found hidden on one of the world’s most famous paintings

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Emily Badiozzaman

There's nothing like a racist joke to ruin a masterpiece and your opinion of the artist.

Kazimir Malevich's 1915 painting 'Black Square' is widely regarded as one of the world's greatest artworks.

But it turns out Malevich scrawled a handwritten inscription under the painting, which historians found while looking at the piece with an x-ray for the paintings centenary. 

It translates as something like "Negroes battling in a cave."

According to historians, this might be a reference to a much earlier painting of a black square, called Combat des Negres dans une cave, pendant la nuit (Negroes fighting in a cellar at night) by French writer and humorist Alphonse Allais, painted in 1897.

If correct, this would cast new light on Malevich’s painting, suggesting it was in a dialogue with the French picture.

Either way, it doesn't paint a good picture of the artist and we're guessing people will look at his work in a different, less complimentary light because racism, even for the sake of art is absolutely not cool. 


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Emily Badiozzaman

Emily is a freelance writer for She covers breaking news, entertainment, style and lifestyle for the site. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found eating and drinking or thinking about food and drinking. Follow Emily on Twitter: @ebadiozzaman 

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