Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky
4 records
(Russia, 1866–1944, active Germany and France)

Wassily Kandinsky, often credited with the initial transition from representational to abstract art (suggested in Untitled [Composition no. 1] 1915) was a crucial figure in the development of twentieth - century modernism. Between 1909 and 1914 Kandinsky’s landscapes evolved into increasingly abstract compositions, to which he gave musical titles, including Improvisations, Impressions, and Compositions. Intense and sometimes dissonant color harmonies began to dominate his compositions, while representational elements were reduced to dark lines and compact colored shapes. He hoped these works would convey what he called the “largely unconscious, spontaneous expression of inner character, non-material nature” in his 1912 book, Concerning the Spiritual in Art.

The remainder of the Kandinsky works date from his years as a teacher at the highly influential Bauhaus school in Germany. Three Free Circles (1923) harks back to Kandinsky’s connection to Russian Constructivism, with its simple geometric shapes, lines, and patterns. Study for Circles in the Circle (1923) reveals Kandinsky’s extreme precision and his reliance upon the most elementary form—the circle—which he believed to be “the synthesis of the greatest oppositions.” As he once explained, “I love the circle today as I formerly loved the horse…perhaps even more, since I find more inner potentialities in the circle, which is why it has taken the horse’s place.” Melodious (1924) is an abstract watercolor imbued with the syncopation, dynamism and energy that Kandinsky associated with music and translated into visual forms. Yellow Border (1930), the single painting in the group reveals the close connection between Kandinsky and Paul Klee at the Bauhaus. Its precise geometric forms summarize in oil the elements that the earlier watercolors explore.

- Stephanie Barron, Senior Curator, Modern Art, 2007