164
164
Wassily Kandinsky
POINTILLÉ
Estimate
400,000600,000
JUMP TO LOT
164
Wassily Kandinsky
POINTILLÉ
Estimate
400,000600,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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New York

Wassily Kandinsky
1866 - 1944
POINTILLÉ
Signed with the artist's monogram and dated 35 (lower left); titled, numbered no 559 and dated 1935 (on the verso of the mount)
Gouache on black card mounted on card
Sheet: 19 by 13 1/4 in. ; 48.2 by 33.7
Mount: 22 1/4 by 16 1/2 in. ; 56.5 by 41.9 cm
Executed in May 1935.
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Provenance

J.B. Neumann, New York (acquired in November 1935 and until at least 1939)
Nierendorf Gallery, New York (acquired by July 1942)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (The Museum of Non-Objective Painting), New York (acquired from the above in 1945 and sold: Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, October 20, 1971, lot 55)
Jerome L. Greene, New York (acquired at the above sale)
Jewish Museum, New York (a gift from the estate of the above; deaccessioned in 2000)
Sale: Farsetti Arte, Prato, December 1, 2007, lot 721
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

Exhibited

Paris, Cahiers d'Art, W. Kandisnky: nouvelles toiles, aquarelles, dessins, 1935
Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, The Fifteenth International Exhibition of Watercolors, 1936, no. 120 
Boston, Institute of Modern Art, Contemporary German Art, 1939, no. 24

Literature

The Artist's Handlist, Watercolours, listed as v 1935, 559, Pointillé
Wassily Kandinsky, "Toile Vide Etc" in Cahiers d'Art, 5-6, 1935, illustrated p. 118
Vivian Endicott Barnett, Kandinsky Watercolours: Catalogue Raisonné, vol. II, London, 1994, no. 1188, illustrated p. 412

Catalogue Note

Pointillé is part of a group of gouaches executed on black paper which Kandinsky created during the last decade of his career while living in Paris, and it is testament to the virtuosity of his mature style. The practice of applying vibrant pigment to dark paper, including sheets the artist had prepared himself, began early in his career, as exemplified by Die Rosen (see lot 163) and reveals the roots of his artistic training at the height of the Art Nouveau movement in Europe.

During his so-called Parisian period, Kandinsky preferred to work on paper far more than on canvas and he considered such works to be fully finished masterpieces, bearing all the hallmarks of his idiosyncratic style. The ability to skillfully handle graphic media was fundamental to Kandinsky’s conception of the artist. He wrote in 1931 in the Journal des poètes: "to be able to devote oneself to [art], one should be a good draughtsman, have a great sensibility for composition and colours and, most importantly, be a true poet" (quoted in Jean-Louis Prat, ed., Wassily Kandinsky: Retrospective (exhibition catalogue), Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, 2001, p. 126).

The biomorphic forms which prevail throughout this body of work were a clear departure from the artist's decidedly geometric, linear output of the Bauhaus years, and they instead reveal the influences of the Surrealist group, with which Kandinsky came into closer contact in Paris in the 1930s. Whilst he was not drawn to the idea of automatism and the use of dreams and he was certain to discount any direct influence he may have drawn from his contemporaries working in France, his work was nevertheless transformed by exposure to Jean Arp's and Joan Miró's formal aesthetic. The gentler, more organic forms and shapes were almost certainly also informed by Kandinsky's interest in molecular biology during the 1930s, attested by the collection of magazine and newspaper clippings the artist kept on the subject. Ernst Heinrich Haeckel's Kunstformen der Natur of 1899-1904 (see fig. 2) is thought to have been another influence and a source of inspiration for this aesthetic. 

Many of the forms populating works from this last decade, including those found in the present work, frequently resemble deep sea organisms. Their luminosity and at times playfulness obscure the great sense of unease and the hardship Kandinsky and his wife Nina experienced during this time. After the closure of the Dessau Bauhaus by the National Socialists in 1932, Kandinsky attempted to revive the school’s ethos in Berlin, before eventually moving to Paris in 1934, where he remained for the rest of his life.

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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