- Wassily Kandinsky
- Deutliche Verbindung (Clear Connection)
- signed with the monogram and dated 25 (lower left)
- watercolour and Indian ink on paper
- 48.2 by 31.8cm.
- 19 by 12 1/2 in.
Solomon Hale, Mexico City (acquired in 1931. Sold: Parke-Bernet, New York, 21st May 1975, lot 40)
Private Collection, New York (sold: Christie's, New York, 11th November 1987, lot 118)
Purchased at the above sale by the family of the present owner
Dresden, Galerie Arnold, Kandinsky: Jubiläums-Ausstellung zum 60. Geburtstage, 1926, no. 90
Mannheim, Städtische Kunsthalle, Wege und Richtungen der abstrakten Malerei in Europa, 1927, no. 117
Oakland, The Oakland Art Gallery, Kandinsky, 1929, no. 6
Hollywood, Braxton Gallery, Kandinsky, 1930, no. 17
San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, The Blue Four, 1931, no. 17
Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, Eleventh International Exhibition of Water Colors, 1931, no. 120
Oakland, The Oakland Art Gallery, The Blue Four: Feininger, Jawlensky, Kandinsky, Paul Klee, 1931, no. 17
Vivian Endicott Barnett, Kandinsky Watercolours: Catalogue Raisonné, London, 1994, vol. II, no. 768, illustrated p. 153
As early as 1911, in his seminal text Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Kandinsky had described the interrelationship of colour and form: ‘It is evident that certain colours can be emphasised or dulled in value by certain forms. Generally speaking, sharp colours are well suited to sharp forms (e.g. yellow in the triangle), and soft, deep colours to round forms (e.g. blue in the circle). But it must be remembered that an unsuitable combination of form and colour is not necessarily discordant, but may with manipulation show fresh harmonic possibilities’ (quoted in Paul Overy, Kandinsky. The Language of the Eye, London, 1969, p. 163). Adopting an increasingly purely geometric abstraction that was partly influenced by his time spent in Russia and exposure to Suprematist art, Kandinsky used his teaching at the Bauhaus to continue his investigations into the symbiosis of colour and form. In line with Bauhaus principles, the classes he gave were participatory rather than purely didactic, and the artist designed a series of exercises for his students that challenged them to investigate colour theory, with a specific focus on the relationship between different colours and the correspondence between colour and form.
A delicate orchestration of lines, shapes and dots, Deutliche Verbindung exemplifies the fruits of this experimentation. As Armin Zweite explains when discussing Kandinsky’s work of this period, this move towards abstraction did not entirely preclude a subjective suggestiveness that was the result of the artist’s careful arrangement of compositional elements: ‘Kandinsky does not simply arrange a variety of abstract forms into a pattern: the forms, in conjunction with the colours, tell their own story. Each defined by its own setting, they take on a specific and – in varying degrees – trenchant character’ (A. Zweite, ‘Free the Line for the Inner Sound’, in Kandinsky Watercolors and Drawings (exhibition catalogue), Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, 1992, p. 26).
The considered deliberation behind a work such as Deutliche Verbindung is further illustrated by the artist’s technical acuity. Balancing spheres, triangles and half-circles of solid colour with darkly inked lines and subtle washes of watercolour, Kandinsky creates a remarkable dynamic within the present composition. The fine mist of watercolour – which was a technique he adopted from his friend and fellow-Bauhaus teacher Paul Klee (fig. 1) – is deployed to particularly striking effect. His exquisite use of watercolour and ink in this work reflects Kandinsky’s increasing interest in the medium which would come to define much of his artistic output over the remainder of his career.
The first owner of this work was Galka Scheyer, a collector and dealer whose primary interest was in ‘The Blue Four’: Jawlensky, Kandinsky, Klee and Feininger. In 1924 she moved from Germany to New York, and later settled in California. In America, particularly California, she befriended a number of collectors and museum curators, and energetically promoted the four artists, organising group and solo exhibitions, and giving lectures on their work.