Lot 46
  • 46

Wassily Kandinsky

1,800,000 - 2,500,000 USD
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  • Wassily Kandinsky
  • Violett-Grün (Violet-Green)
  • Signed with the artist's monogram K and dated '26 (lower left)
  • Oil on board
  • 25 1/4 by 21 1/8 in.
  • 64 by 53.5 cm


Nina Kandinsky (by descent from the artist and given for an auction in aid of the Committee for Relief of Russian Prisoners of War, Paris, 1945)
Joseph H. Hazen, New York
Private Collection, Rome (sold: Sotheby's, London, April 2, 1979, lot 63)
Stephan Hahn, New York (acquired at the above sale)
(probably) Acquired from the above


Munich, Neue Kunst Hans Goltz, Kandinsky Jubiläums-Ausstellung zum 60. Geburtstage, 1927, no. 28a
Halle, Städtisches Museum Moritzburg, Kandinsky, 1929
Breslau, Schlesisches Museum der bildenden Künste, Wassily Kandinsky, Emil Nolde, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, 1929-30
Bern, Kunsthalle, Wassily Kandinsky, Französische Meister der Gegenwart, 1937, no. 29
New York, The New Gallery, Kandinsky, 1961, no. 10, illustrated in the catalogue
Jerusalem, The Israel Museum, Paintings from the collection of Joseph H. Hazen, 1966, no.15, illustrated in the catalogue


Artist's Handlist II, no. 329
Will Grohmann, Wassily Kandinsky, Life and Work, New York, no. 329, illustrated p. 366
Hans K. Roethel & Jean K. Benjamin, Kandinsky, Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil-Paintings, 1916-1944, vol. II, New York, 1984, no. 773, illustrated p. 724 (with the measurements 66 by 54 cm)


The board is stable. Apart from small spots of retouching at intervals along the framing edges and one spot in the lower left corner, visible under UV light, this work is in good condition.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Violett-Grün (Violet-Green) is one of the few oils that Kandinsky completed in 1926 while he was teaching at the Bauhaus, Walter Gropius' school of avant-garde art and architecture in Germany.  The Bauhaus had relocated to Dessau from Weimar in 1925, and Kandinsky found the living and working conditions extremely favorable in this new environment. Radical examples of modern architecture were constructed for workshops and faculty residences, and Kandinsky shared a house with Paul Klee that overlooked the park.   Kandinsky's years at Dessau were some of his most productive, during which time he completed several series, such as his "black-and-white" paintings and his symbolic "circle" paintings, as well as many other significant works. His artistic development was strongly influenced, no doubt, by his Bauhaus colleague Klee, whose watercolors of these years demonstrate similar artistic predilections.  The year that he completed the present work, Kandinsky published Point and Line to Plane, a widely-read book about the governing aesthetic principles in his art.  Violett-Grün (Violet-Green) encapsulates those artistic theories that Kandinsky championed at this highly theoretical and influential point in his career.

The aesthetic theories governing many of Kandinsky's compositions throughout his career derived from his 1911 treatise, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, in which he praised the power of color and its influence on the beholder.  By the time he created the present work in 1926, his aesthetic philosophies addressed new concerns.  For example, Kandinsky believed that the color green was a soothing color, evoking a "restful" state of being and demanding no emotional response from the viewer. For the artist, green provided a neutral and therefore appealing compromise between the sentimentality of the color blue and the earthiness of yellow. In this picture, Kandinsky explored the color green in its many variations, and manipulated the color with violet to convey the illusion of space.  The present oil is also a clear example of the artist's mature style, with its emphasis on the individuality of shapes and their harmonious placement within a composition.  Kandinsky believed that particular arrangements of shapes triggered an "inner resonance" or "spiritual vibration," and could elicit from a viewer a powerful emotional response.  Jagged solid forms, arcs, grids, triangles and circles, whether overlapping or adjacent, were strictly non-representational and created only to celebrate the beauty of form for form's sake. 

We would like to thank Vivian Endicott Barnett for clarifying the provenance of this painting.