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Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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Wassily Kandinsky
1866 - 1944
VERSUNKEN (SUBMERGED)
signed with the artist's monogram and dated 29 (lower left); signed with the artist's monogram, dated 1929, titled and numbered No. 348 on the reverse of the mount
watercolour, gouache and ink on paper mounted on card
sheet: 50.1 by 25cm., 19 3/4 by 9 7/8 in.
mount: 61.8 by 37.1cm., 24 3/8 by 14 5/8 in
Executed in 1929.
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Provenance

Nina Kandinsky, Paris (the artist's wife)
Galerie Maeght, Paris (acquired in 1974)
Adrien Maeght Collection, Paris
Private Collection, Paris
Sale: Loudmer Scp., Paris, 13th June 1994, lot 68
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner

Exhibited

Saarbrücken, Saarbrücken Staatliches Museum, Kollektiv-Ausstellung Wassily Kandinsky, 1930, no. 34
Milan, Galleria del Milione, Kandinsky, 1934, no. 348
Lucerne, Galerie Rosengart, Kandinsky - Peintures, aquarelles, dessins, 1953, no. 8
Zurich, Kandinsky: Ölbilder, Gouachen, Zeichnungen, 1972, no. 23
Madrid, Fundación Juan March & Seville, Museo Contemporaneo, Kandinsky, 1923-1944, 1979, no. 44
Ahlen, Kunstmuseum Ahlen, Das Bauhaus, 1993-94

Literature

Vivian Endicott Barnett, Kandinsky Watercolours, Catalogue raisonné, Ithaca, 1992, vol. II, no. 939, illustrated p. 252

Catalogue Note

Executed in 1929, Versunken reveals the impact of the pioneering creative theories that Wassily Kandinsky was formulating during his time at the Bauhaus. The artist had joined the teaching faculty at the newly founded Bauhaus school of art and design in June 1922 after a few months in Berlin. Kandinsky’s role, alongside Lyonel Feininger and Paul Klee, provided the students with introductory courses in art and design as well as lectures on the most innovative artistic theories of the day. In 1925 the Bauhaus moved to the site at Dessau where the school was housed in architecturally ground-breaking buildings designed by Walter Gropius. At the Bauhaus Kandinsky’s mode of artistic expression underwent significant change, and his recent acquaintance with the Russian avant-garde and the Revolution had a particularly profound impact on his art. Works executed during this time were created in a manner honed by a period of great experimentation with new abstract forms and geometrical compositions. Whilst teaching at the Bauhaus, Kandinsky also experimented with the idea of ‘spraying’ with watercolour, a technique which is displayed to superb effect within Versunken to produce an impression of slightly diffused and softened colours.

Whilst his own abstract art of this period re-enforced the ideas expounded within Point and Line to plane, published in 1926, the theories which he had propounded in his earlier iconic manifesto, On the Spiritual in Art of 1911, came increasingly to the fore of his creative production during the Bauhaus years. Kandinsky believed that every colour was endowed with its own symbolic sound and meaning, and that form and colour were inextricably connected. The artist considered red to be a particularly powerful colour, with every permutation of the shade endowed with different meanings and associations. The graduating shades of red employed within Versunken are thus imbued with a range of meanings and musical associations, with vermilion representing the tones of a tuba, whilst madder red—which dominates the present composition—suggests the higher registers of the violin.

Kandinsky also became increasingly engaged with the creative and philosophical possibilities of the circle during this time, a fascination which is revealed within the present work through the focus on this shape as the central locus of the composition. Kandinsky declared that: ‘If I have… in recent years so frequently and so enthusiastically made use of the circle, the reason (or the cause) is not the ‘geometrical’ form of the circle, or its geometrical characteristic, but rather my own extreme sensitivity to the inner force of the circle in all its countless variations’ (quoted in: Ulrike Becks-Malorny, Kandinsky, Cologne, 2003, p. 157).

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