Lot 17
  • 17

Wassily Kandinsky

2,000,000 - 3,000,000 USD
1,330,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Wassily Kandinsky
  • Kühle Energie (Cool Energy)
  • Signed with the artist's monogram and dated 26 (lower left); signed with the artist's monogram, titled Kühle Energie, inscribed no. 331 & dated 1926 (on the reverse)
  • Oil on canvas


Galerie Maeght, Paris

Collection Lazar, Paris

Galerie Tarica, Paris

Dino Fabbri, Milan

Private Collection (sold: Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, November 1, 1978, lot 44)

Acquired at the above sale by A. Alfred Taubman


The Artist's Handlist II, 1926, no. 331

Will Grohmann, Wassily Kandinsky, Life and Work, New York, 1958, no. 211, illustrated p. 367

Hans K. Roethel & Jean K. Benjamin, eds., Kandinsky, Catalogue raisonné of the Oil-Paintings, vol. II: 1916-1944, Ithaca, 1984, no. 775, illustrated p. 726

Catalogue Note

Kühle Energie is one of the few oils that Kandinsky completed in May 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.  Kühle Energie 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 and blue 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 nonrepresentational and created only to celebrate the beauty of form for form's sake.