Lot 108
  • 108

Wassily Kandinsky

150,000 - 200,000 USD
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  • Wassily Kandinsky
  • OHNE TITEL (untitled)
  • Dated 2 viii 19 (lower left)
  • Watercolor and India ink on paper
  • 7 1/2 by 12 in.
  • 18.9 by 30.5 cm


Vasily Dmitrievich Bobrov, Moscow (acquired from the artist)
George Costakis, Moscow and Athens
Kouros Gallery, New York (acquired in the mid-1980s)
Schlesigner Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above


Düsseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Wassily Kandinsky, Aquarelle und Zeichnungen, 1992, no. 63


Vivian Endicott Barnett, Kandinsky Watercolours, Catalogue Raisonné, Volume One, 1900-1921, Ithaca, 1992, no. 515, illustrated p. 451

Catalogue Note

With the outbreak of World War One, Kandinsky left Germany in August 1914 and, having spent several months in Switzerland with Gabriele Münter, he reached Russia in December where he would stay until 1921. Writing about the development of his art during the years spent in his native country, Clark Poling comments: “Viewed from the perspective of his entire career, the seven years Kandinsky spent in Russia occasioned a transition in his art, from the expressionist abstraction of the immediately preceding Munich years to the geometric style of his Bauhaus period. A parallel shift in his theoretical work began to occur in Russia, as he increasingly emphasized the objective characteristics of formal elements and the principles of their use. […] The new qualities in his painting are first seen in works from 1919 to 1921, which show a reduction of expressionist handling of forms and a gradual absorption of the geometric elements and structural principles of Russian avant-garde art. At the same time, Kandinsky sought to maintain what he saw as artistic freedom and expressive content by preserving the complexity and some of the irregular forms and associative imagery of his earlier art” (Clark Poling, Kandinsky, Bauhaus and Russian Years (exhibition catalogue), The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1983, p. 14).

This transition is visible in the present work: some degree of association with nature still exists in an allusion to a landscape, most notably in the shape of a mountain on the left of the composition, and a curved line of the horizon on the right, intersected by what could be read as trees and hills. Whilst still recognizable from his early works, these elements have become increasingly abstract and geometricized. Set against a monochrome background and colored in primary tones outlined in red ink, Kandinsky’s compositions of this period gradually abandon the sense of gravity, heralding the purely abstract compositions of his Bauhaus years.


The first owner of the present work was Vasily Dmitrievich Bobrov, Kandinsky’s student and secretary during his stay in Russia. Bobrov was an artist in his own right, whose abstract works were influenced by Kandinsky’s artistic theory and painterly style, and who exhibited alongside Russian avant-garde artist such as Rodchenko, Kliun and Popova. On his final departure from Russia in 1921, Kandinsky left a group of works, including the present watercolor, to Bobrov. It was later acquired by George Costakis, a distinguished collector of Russian art, who donated the majority of his magnificent collection of the Russian avant-garde to the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moskow in 1977.