Lot 24
  • 24

Wassily Kandinsky

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
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  • Wassily Kandinsky
  • Leise (Quietly)
  • signed with artist's initials and dated 28
  • watercolour, spritz technique and pen and ink on paper
  • 32.1 by 50.9 cm. 12 5/8 by 20 in.


Dr. Will Grohmann, Germany (a gift from the artist in December 1929)
Prof. Ernst Kuehnel, Berlin (a gift from the above in the 1930s)
Thence by descent to the present owner


Paris, Galerie Zak; The Hague, Kunstzaal de Bron; Brussels, Galerie Le Centaure, Exposition d'aquarelles de Wassily Kandinsky, January - June 1929, no. 60


Vivian Endicott Barnett, Kandinsky Watercolours, Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. Two, 1922-1944, London 1994, p. 240, no. 913, illustrated


Please note that a professional condition report has been completed for this work. Please contact Bartholomew Miller to receive a copy. Bartholomew.miller@sothebys.com 0207 293 6095
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

“The geometric point is an invisible thing. Therefore, it must be defined as an incorporeal thing. Considered in terms of substance, it equals zero... Thus we look upon the geometric point as the ultimate and most singular union of silence and speech. The geometric point has, therefore, been given its material form, in the first instance, in writing. It belongs to language and signifies silence.”

Wassily Kandinsky,  Point and Line to Plane, Munich 1926

Building on the publication of his seminal text Point and Line to Plane in 1926, Kandinsky used his teaching to continue his investigations into the interrelationship of colour, form and line. In Leise Kandinsky demonstrates his accomplished use of line and shape, creating geometric fields of form which coalesce in a field of three colours. The evocative title relates to Kandinsky’s unique exploration of music and colour within art. The composition of horizontal and vertical line, particularly to those within the green is demonstrative of an abstracted musical score – the artist encourages the viewer to feel the sound of each colour. From his seminal 1911 work on colour theory it is possible to read the work through each colour as calming, supernatural and joyful. It is a quiet symphony typical of Kandinsky’s mastery of his art at the Bauhaus.

During the early 1920s prior to his moving to the Bauhaus, Kandinsky's work gradually moved away from the free flowing, irregular lines and shapes of his earlier œuvre, towards a more geometric form of abstraction. His watercolours and paintings of this period are dominated by circles, triangles and straight lines rather than undefined shapes and loosely applied paint. This shift to strict geometric forms reflects the influence of Russian Constructivist art, to which he was exposed during the war years spent in Moscow. Constructivist art was gaining international scope and becoming an important artistic force in Germany during this time, where geometry was accepted as a universal artistic language. However, whilst developing this increasingly abstract vocabulary, Kandinsky's art did not fully adopt the practical, utilitarian quality characteristic of much of Constructivist art. Instead, the poetic and spiritual elements of his earlier works remained the underlying force of his art in the 1920s.

Kandinsky had joined the teaching faculty at the newly founded Bauhaus school of art and design in June 1922. His role, alongside Lyonel Feininger and Paul Klee, provided the students with mandatory introductory courses in art and design, as well as, lectures on the most innovative artistic theories of the day. 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. Whilst he never committed himself to the Constructivist cause, his role at the Department of Visual Arts (IZO) within the People’s Commissariat of Enlightenment had brought him into close contact with their ideas and aesthetic. Works executed during this time were created in a manner honed by a period of great experimentation with new abstract forms and geometrical compositions.