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    Sale 7599

    Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale

    24 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 23

    Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)

    Distribution

    Price Realised  

    Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)
    Distribution
    signed with monogram and dated '34' (lower left)
    watercolour, pen and India ink and pencil on paper
    21 3/8 x 14 7/8 in. (54.3 x 37.8 cm.)
    Executed in December 1934


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    Consisting of a number of strangely amorphous, lyrical and almost embryonic forms, distributed within the severe, rigid geometry of a seemingly hierarchical construction, Distribution is an important watercolour that marks the beginning of a new development in Kandinsky's art. Executed in Paris in December 1934, at the end the first year of the artist's exile from Hitler's Germany, it is one of the first works made in the Russian-born artist's new home to signal the birth of a new organic abstraction.

    After the closure of the Bauhaus in 1933, Kandinsky had been obliged to leave Hitler's Germany and he and his wife Nina moved to Neuilly-sur Seine, on the outskirts of Paris, where they soon came into contact with the Abstraction-Création group, whose members, amongst others, included Fernand Léger, Constantin Brancusi, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Hans Arp and Joan Miró. In contrast to the severe geometry and utopian idealism of the constructivism that had been prevalent in Revolutionary Russia and at the Bauhaus, the Abstraction-Création group favoured a 'constructive' art rooted in what they saw as the order of the forms of nature and the intuitive impulse. This philosophy, along with Kandinsky's new environment and his release from responsibility at the Bauhaus, seems to have influenced what was to become an increasingly pronounced shift in his work towards the creation of mysterious nature-based abstract constructions that seemed to speak of new astral or microscopic worlds populated by strange cells and/or bizarre planets.

    Distribution (after his move to Paris all of his paintings were titled in French) was one of a number of works Kandinsky sent to his American-based dealer Galka Scheyer. Kandinsky was greatly dependent on the American market for his work, during this difficult period of transition, and sent many of his finest works to Galka Scheyer for exhibition and possible sale in America.

    Marking an apparent progressive ascent of amorphous and strange irregular forms within the severe regulated graphic ladder of a laboratory chart-like structure, Distribution echoes strongly another of Kandinsky's most important paintings of this year, Montée tendre (Gentle Ascent). This was an oil, painted in March 1934, that he also sent to Galka Scheyer at this time, and which now forms part of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum's major holding of Kandinsky's work in New York.

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    Provenance

    Galka E. Scheyer, Los Angeles, by September 1936.
    Nierendorf Gallery, New York, by July 1942.
    Hilla Rebay, New York, by February 1945.
    The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, a gift from the estate of the above in 1971; sale, Sotheby's, New York, 20 October 1971, lot 50. Acquired at the above sale by the late owners.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF J. IRWIN AND XENIA S. MILLER


    Literature

    The artist's handlist, watercolours, as 'xii 1934, 544, Distribution (Aq.)'.
    V. Endicott Barnett, Kandinsky Watercolours: Catalogue Raisonné, Volume Two, 1922-1944, London, 1992, no. 1171 (illustrated pp. 391 and 401).


    Exhibited

    New York, Museum of Non-Objective Painting, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, In Memory of Wassily Kandinsky, March - August 1945, no. 202.
    Lakeland, Florida Southern College, Art of Tomorrow - Bauer, Kandinsky, Rebay: Exhibition of Non-Objective Painting, February 1955, no. 544.