Lot 112
  • 112

Wassily Kandinsky

Estimate
200,000 - 300,000 USD
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Description

  • Wassily Kandinsky
  • OHNE TITEL (UNTITLED)

  • Signed with the monogram and dated K/23 (lower left)
  • Gouache, watercolor and India ink on paper
  • 14 1/4 by 9 7/8 in.
  • 36.2 by 25 cm

Provenance

Nina Kandinsky, Paris (by inheritance from the artist after 1944)
Galerie Maeght, Paris
Acquired from the above in the first week of July 1955

Literature

The artist’s handlist, watercolors: ‘vii 1923, 79’
Will Grohman, Wassily Kandinsky: Life and Work, New York, 1958, no. 712, illustrated p. 347
Vivian Endicott Barnett, Kandinsky Watercolours, Catalogue Raisonné, Volume Two, 1922-1944, London, 1994, no. 630, illustrated p. 63

Catalogue Note

Having returned to Germany from Moscow after the war, Kandinsky started teaching at the Bauhaus in Weimar in June 1922. He quickly became involved again in the German art world: he participated in a number of exhibitions, and his teachings and writings were crucial to the development of abstract art internationally. In 1922-23 Kandinsky’s work gradually moved away from the free flowing, irregular lines and shapes of his earlier years, towards a more geometric form of abstraction. His watercolors and paintings of this period are dominated by circles, triangles and straight lines rather than by undefined shapes and loosely applied paint. This shift to strict geometric forms reflects the influence of Russian Constructivist art, to which he was exposed during the war years spent in Moscow. With artists such as Kandinsky and Moholy-Nagy, however, constructivist art was gaining an international scope and becoming an important artistic force in Germany, where geometry was accepted as a universal artistic language. Whilst developing this increasingly abstract vocabulary, Kandinsky’s art did not fully adopt the practical, utilitarian quality characteristic of much of constructivist art. The poetic and spiritual elements of his earlier works remained the underlining force of his art in the 1920s.

During the Bauhaus years, Kandinsky further developed the theories that he had originally proposed in his 1911 book, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, and his ideas found a fresh expression in the paintings and watercolors of the period. In 1923, the year the present work was executed, he published Punkt und Linie zu Fläche (Point and Line to Plane), which outlined his theories of the basic elements of artistic composition, expounding his ideas about abstraction, form and color. Most notably, he developed his Theory of Correspondences, which emphasized a systematic study of pictorial elements, both in isolation and in their interrelationships. In 1923-24, Kandinsky executed a number of works, including the present watercolor, that embody this theory in combining the forms of circle and straight line. He explained the importance of the circle, which became the central form in his works of this period, in a letter to Will Grohmann: “The circle is the synthesis of the greatest oppositions. It combines the concentric and the excentric in a single form, and in balance. Of the three primary forms [triangle, square, circle], it points most clearly to the fourth dimension” (quoted in Will Grohmann, Wassily Kandinsky: Life and Work, New York, 1958, p. 188).

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