139
139

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Wassily Kandinsky
SCHLUSS (CONCLUSION)
Estimate
700,0001,000,000
JUMP TO LOT
139

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Wassily Kandinsky
SCHLUSS (CONCLUSION)
Estimate
700,0001,000,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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London

Wassily Kandinsky
1866 - 1944
SCHLUSS (CONCLUSION)
signed with the initial K and dated 26 (lower left); signed with the initial K, titled, dated 1926 and numbered 360 on the reverse
oil on board
80.5 by 38.1cm., 31 3/4 by 15in.
Painted in 1926.
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Provenance

Galerie Maeght, Paris
Adrien Maeght, Paris (acquired before 1984; sale: Sotheby's, London, 30th June 1987, lot 66)
Private Collection, Geneva (purchased at the above sale; sale: Sotheby's, Paris, 3rd June 2010, lot 37)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner

Exhibited

Stuttgart, Kunsthaus Schaller, Kandinsky, 1928, no. 3674 (probably)
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Braque-Kandinsky-Picasso, 1946, no. 55
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum & The Hague, Gemeente Museum, Kandinsky, 1947-48, no. 40
Bern, Kunsthalle, Gesamtausstellung Wassily Kandinsky, 1955, no. 48
Baden-Baden, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Wassily Kandinsky: Gemälde 1900-1944,  1970, no. 69
Zurich, Galerie Maeght, Kandinsky, Ölbilder, Gouachen, Zeichnungen, 1972, no. 11
Madrid, Fundación Juan March, Kandinsky 1923-1944, 1978, no. 6
Venice, Progetto Venezia, 3. Mostra Internazionale di Architettura, 1985, no. 111 (probably)

Literature

The Artist's Handlist, vol. II, no. 360
Will Grohmann, Wassily Kandinsky, Life & Work, London, 1959, no. 235, illustrated p. 369
Hans K. Roethel & Jean K. Benjamin, Kandinsky, Catalogue raisonné of the oil paintings, London, 1984, vol. II, no. 803, illustrated p. 747 (with incorrect height)
Jelena Hahl-Koch, Kandinsky, London, 1993, illustrated in colour p. 287

Catalogue Note

Painted in 1926, Schluss (Conclusion) is a highly significant example of the work created by Wassily Kandinsky during his time spent teaching at the Bauhaus in Dessau. It was during this period that his theories and ideas concerning abstraction in art reached their apogee. Within the present painting, a deep crimson circle hovers, mandala-like, against a deep blue background, contrasting with the geometric precision of the equilateral triangle beneath. The triangle is itself formed of a further sixteen small inter-locking equilateral triangles, imbuing the overall form with a precise and elegant beauty. There is a celestial quality to the composition, with the circular shape being reminiscent of a planetary body floating within the velvety darkness of space. Kandinsky was fascinated by astronomy as a discipline, and imbued several other works of this period with connotations of extra-terrestrial objects, including Blue from 1927 in The Museum of Modern Art, New York (see fig. 1).

Kandinsky had joined the teaching faculty at the newly founded Bauhaus school of art and design in Weimar in June 1922 after a few recuperative months in Berlin. Kandinsky’s role, alongside Lyonel Feininger and Paul Klee, provided the students with introductory courses in art and design as well as lectures on the most innovative artistic theories of the day. In 1925 the Bauhaus moved to the site at Dessau where the school was housed in architecturally ground-breaking buildings designed by Walter Gropius. At the Bauhaus, Kandinsky’s mode of artistic expression underwent significant change, and his recent acquaintance with the Russian avant-garde and the Revolution had a particularly profound impact on his art. Whilst he never committed himself to the constructivist cause, his role at the Department of Visual Arts (IZO) within the People’s Commissariat of Enlightenment had brought him into close contact with their ideas and aesthetic. Works made at the Bauhaus, including the present example, were created in a manner honed by a period of great experimentation with new abstract forms and geometrical compositions.

1926 was an especially productive and successful year for Kandinsky. Not only did he celebrate his sixtieth birthday – which was marked by a large travelling exhibition which promoted his work – he also published his major treatise, Point and Line to plane, in which the artist discussed the genesis of abstraction, and its essential function. Within the treatise, Kandinsky argued that: 'Abstract art, despite its emancipation, is subject here also to 'natural laws' and is obliged to proceed in the same way that nature did proceed, when it started in a modest way with protoplasm and cells, progressing very gradually to increasingly complex organisms’ (quoted in Kenneth Lindsay & Peter Vergo (eds.), Kandinsky: Complete Writings on Art, New York, 1982, vol. II, p. 628).

Whilst his own abstract art of this period re-enforced the ideas expounded within Point and Line to plane, the theories which he had propounded in his earlier iconic manifesto, On the Spiritual in Art of 1911, came increasingly to the fore of his creative production during the Bauhaus years. Kandinsky believed that every colour was endowed with its own symbolic sound and meaning, and that form and colour were inextricably connected. ‘Sharp’ colours, such as orange or yellow, were accentuated by their conjunction with a pointed form such as a triangle, an idea which is conveyed to intriguing effect within Schluss (Conclusion). Kandinsky also became increasingly engaged with the creative and philosophical possibilities of the circle during this time, a fascination which is revealed within the present work through the focus on the circle as the central locus of the composition. Kandinsky declared that: ‘If I have… in recent years so frequently and so enthusiastically made use of the circle, the reason (or the cause) is not the ‘geometrical’ form of the circle, or its geometrical characteristic, but rather my own extreme sensitivity to the inner force of the circle in all its countless variations’ (quoted in Ulrike Becks-Malorny, Kandinsky, Cologne, 2003, p. 157). Ultimately, Schluss (Conclusion) draws together Kandinsky’s ground-breaking theories concerning non-objectivity in art into a powerful and mesmerising composition.

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