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Impressionist & Modern Art

Kandinsky — A Visual Symphony

The upcoming Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale will see an exceptional work by Wassily Kandinsky make history, as it is offered at auction for the very first time. The painting will be on display from 26–31 May at Sotheby's Hong Kong, alongside other highlights from the sale

Produced in 1913, Bild mit weissen Linien represents an important period in Kandinsky's career during which he perfected his own lyrical form of abstraction. Some of his most significant works, Komposition VI and Komposition VII, were also made in 1913 — the same year that saw Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2 and Umberto Boccioni's Unique Forms of Continuity in Space unveiled for the first time, marking a new period of creative and theoretical innovation in the arts. Bild mit weissen Linien further demonstrates Kandinsky's departure from the figurative to the abstract, in this powerful masterpiece, drawing together visual elements he had experimented with in the preceding years. His seminal 1909 landscape Murnau – Landschaft mit grünem Haus (Murnau – Landscape with Green House) will also be offered in the sale. 

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PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION: WASSILY KANDINSKY, BILD MIT WEISSEN LINIEN, 1913. ESTIMATE ON REQUEST

During this period, Kandinsky took his cue from the language of musical composition – determined that every colour corresponded with a particular emotion or 'sound'. For example, mid-green sounded like the quiet, mid-range tones of a violin, whilst yellow-green was perceived to be the higher notes of the violin, in contrast to blue-green as a muted alto-violin. The painting encapsulates Kandinsky’s innovation and invention in the revolutionary year of 1913, crucial within the history of modern art as it was marked by events and works across Europe and America that fundamentally changed the way art was conceived and understood. Two preparatory watercolours for Bild mit weissen Linien reveal how he took a tall-towered city, two horses and a red bridge and distilled these in the final work with iridescent patches of colour and sweeping lines. Thus, the work is vital to understanding Kandinsky's concept of abstraction which would influence the development of painting during the 20th century.

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PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION: WASSILY KANDINSKY, BILD MIT WEISSEN LINIEN, 1913. ESTIMATE ON REQUEST

Early in his career, Kandinsky recognised that he was moving towards something that would drastically transform the landscape of modern art, writing in a letter of 1904 to his companion Gabriele Münter: "without exaggerating, I can say that, should I succeed in this task, I will be showing a new, beautiful path for painting susceptible to infinite development. I am on a new track… which will be recognised, sooner or later". In 1911, Kandinsky published a seminal text entitled Concerning the Spiritual in Art, in which he examined radical theories relating to painting, the role of artists and the psychology of colour. 

Helena Newman, Global Co-Head of Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art Department and Chairman of Sotheby's Europe, said: "This profoundly powerful painting is one of the most important works in the history of art that I have had the privilege of handling. Bild mit weissen Linien exemplifies Kandinsky at the height of his creative powers and a painting of this calibre only comes to the market every few decades. With virtually all the important paintings of this year in major museum collections, this represents a very rare opportunity for collectors around the world to acquire a seminal work by this master of Abstraction."

 

MAIN IMAGE: PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION: WASSILY KANDINSKY, BILD MIT WEISSEN LINIEN, 1913. ESTIMATE ON REQUEST.

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