Lot 5
  • 5

Wassily Kandinsky

3,000,000 - 4,000,000 USD
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  • Wassily Kandinsky
  • Vert et rouge
  • Signed with the monogram and dated 40 (lower left); signed with the monogram and inscribed No 669 (on the reverse)
  • Mixed media on panel
  • 31 1/8 by 20 1/8 in.
  • 79 by 51.1 cm


Nina Kandinsky, France (the artist's widow; until at least 1963)

Marguerite & Aimé Maeght, Paris (acquired from the above)

Paule & Adrien Maeght, Paris (acquired from the above)

Galerie Maeght, Paris

Acquired from the above in 1998


Paris, Galerie Renén Drouin, Kandinsky, Epoque Parisienne, 1934-1944, 1949, no. 42, illustrated in the catalogue

Bern, Kunsthalle Bern, Gesamtausstellung Wassily Kandinsky, 1955, no. 97

Saint-Etienne, Musée de Saint-Etienne, Les premières générations 1910-1939, 1957, no. 14

Paris, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Kandinsky, exposition retrospective, 1963, Supplement, no. 132

Stockholm, Moderna Museet, Kandinsky, 1965, no. 64, illustrated in the catalogue

Saint-Paul, Fondation Maeght, Kandinsky, centenaire 1866-1944, 1966, no. 105, illustrated in the catalogue

Paris, Galerie Maeght, Kandinsky, Période Parisienne, 1934-1944, 1969, no. 20 (illustrated in color in the Derrière le Miroir supplement)

New York, M. Knoedler & Co., Kandinsky, Parisian Period 1934-1944, 1969, no. 26, illustrated in the catalogue

Baden-Baden, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Wassily Kandinsky: Gemälde 1900-1944, 1970, no. 157, illustrated in the catalogue

Zurich, Galerie Maeght, Kandinsky, 1972, no. 63

Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Hommage de Paris à Kandinsky: la conquête de l'abstraction, l'époque parisienne, 1972, no. 47

Tokyo, The Seibu Museum of Art, Kandinsky, 1976, no. 37, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Madrid, Fundacion Juan March, Kandinsky 1923-1944, 1978, no. 30, illustrated in the catalogue


Will Grohmann, Wassily Kandinsky: Life and Work, London, 1959, illustrated p. 485

Hans K. Roethel & Jean K. Benjamin, Kandinsky Catalogue Raisonné, London, 1982, no. 1107, illustrated p. 1001

Catalogue Note

Painted in Paris in 1940, Vert et rouge conveys the viewer into the realm of pure aesthetic expression. The exquisite arrangement of the composition's forms and colors represent Kandinsky’s final phase of development at a time when the Surrealists dominated the cultural topography and the city of Paris was a hotbed of creative rivalry. Kandinsky had a long association with Paris, which he had first visited in 1889 when he began to exhibit at various galleries. He spent his formative years in 1906-1907 on the outskirts in Sèvres with Gabrielle Münter. Throughout the next two decades, Kandinsky kept in contact with the Parisian milieu, and through the mediations of Henri Le Fauconnier, he became acquainted with Matisse, Delaunay and Picasso. As he became internationally recognized and venerated as a key figure of the Blaue Reiter and the Bauhaus, exhibitions dedicated to his work were held in Paris in 1929 and 1930. In the last days of 1933, Kandinsky decided to emigrate from an increasingly hostile Germany to France. He and his wife settled at 135 Boulevard de la Seine in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a wealthy, inner suburb of Paris, where he was to live out the remainder of his life.

Discussing the importance and impact of the Parisian pictures, Michael Henry wrote: “The last, Paris canvases thus reveal to the spectator the essence of all paintings and all art, because they disclose its true theme, the mystery of life, and because they define unequivocally the means of achieving that revelation, that is to say these colors and forms which, when the reality of their our subjectivity is lived and experience, are the themselves a part of life. The enigmatic canvases move the viewer to see or rather experience himself or herself: hence the extraordinary emotion they arouse – emotion in the strict sense of the term, for now it is a question of nothing other than the eternal movement of the viewer’s inner life, his or her innermost and endless being” (M. Henry, “The Mystery of the Last Works” in Kandinsky, London, 1993, p. 378). 

The serenity of Vert et rouge is typical of the late works: the tumultuous energy of the early abstractions completed in Bavaria, such as the monumental Komposition VII, has been replaced by a hypnotic grace. This change reflects the shift in Kandinsky’s approach to expression but not the reason for it. The primary concern was always purity, the direct conveyance of his emotions through form and color. Kandinsky’s work had always been endowed with a wealth of references that sought to illuminate the spiritual dimension in art. During the later years at the Bauhaus and later in Paris, the artist became interested in nature and organic growth, as had his friend Paul Klee, and like him he introduced anthropomorphic forms that had grown from ideas about zoology and embryology. Kandinsky clipped photographs and diagrams from scientific articles on deep-sea life. The artist’s late works, therefore, stepped outside of the more folkloric references that had previously featured his Bavarian period; the castle, rider and mountain have given way to deeper mysteries couched in nature’s fundamental elements.

Discussing the artist’s last years, his wife, Nina, wrote: “Certainly in his Parisian period Kandinsky is wholly present. We discover there a Kandinsky who remembers everything that during the course of his work he appears to have forgotten only in order to concentrate the essence and to give us, in this dazzling final firework, the ultimate and thrilling images” (N. Kandinsky, Kandinsky, Parisian Period 1934-1944 (exhibition catalogue), M. Knoedler & Co., New York, 1969, p. 25).