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    Sale 7735

    Impressionist/Modern Evening Sale

    23 June 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 26

    Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)

    Flächen und Linien

    Price Realised  

    Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)
    Flächen und Linien
    signed with the monogram and dated '30' (lower left); signed again with the monogram, dated, titled and numbered 'No. 522 1930 "Flächen und Linien"' (on the reverse)
    oil on cardboard
    19 1/8 x 27 5/8 in. (48.6 x 70.2 cm.)
    Painted in June 1930


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    'The separate and individual laws of those two great realms, nature and art, will ultimately shed light on the general laws of the world and its makeup... and reveal the independent operation of both within a higher, synthetic sequence of external and internal' (Wassily Kandinsky, Punkt und Linie zur Fläche, 1926, Bern, 1955, p. 117).

    A composition of autonomous and seemingly radiating elements, isolated in a mysterious but apparently energized space, Flächen und Linien (Planes and Lines) of 1930 is an important oil painting that demonstrates Kandinsky's unique ability to combine constructivist rigour and painterly intuition into a strangely mystic language of geometry.

    The title of this work echoes closely that of Kandinsky's famous 1926 treatise Punkt und Linie zur Fläche (Point and Line to Plane) in which the artist had painstakingly analyzed the emotive power and nature of all the individual elements of picture-making in a kind of rational attempt to decipher the codes of beauty, harmony and composition. At the same time, fully aware of the defining role of inspiration or the 'spirit' in the creation of art, Kandinsky always asserted that the complex rules and principles of construction and form that he devised in this treatise should always be counterbalanced, if not in fact completely overridden, by the impulses of the painter's intuition. Indeed, he often admitted to almost never applying his own theories to the creation of his work as, for him, intuition was what he described as the artist's 'inner necessity' without which even the most perfectly constructed picture becomes a 'dead canvas'.

    Towards this end, Kandinsky's work during the late 1920s and early '30s is a refined development of the stricter logic of his earlier years at the Bauhaus, stretching the rationale of its constructivist geometry to ever more poetic and ultimately anti-rational extremes. A combination of his innate sense of the mystical and spiritual purpose of art with the functional aspects of Constructivist geometry, paintings such as Flächen und Linien ultimately come to stand halfway between science and mythology - an extraordinary cross between an engineer's blueprint and an abstract fairy tale.

    For Kandinsky such paintings both reflected and gave an insight into the ultimate organising force of the world: Nature. To feel the affinity between the elements and laws of the arts was for him, essentially, to gain an insight into the elements and laws of nature and vice versa. In Flächen und Linien the hidden rules to the organising principles of the universe that Kandinsky sought, seem to be written in code on the two page-like forms floating in space, while the other disparate and autonomous forms shimmer and radiate in mottled mystical space of the void. Each is demonstrably an isolated, separate and vastly different element, yet together, amidst this mysterious grey space, they combine pictorially to form a unique and fascinatingly structured compositional whole.


    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    Provenance

    Galka Scheyer, Los Angeles.
    Galerie Maeght, Paris, by 1953.
    Galerie Beyeler, Basel.
    Galerie Karl Flinker, Paris, by 1972.
    Davlyn Gallery, New York.
    Anonymous sale, Christie's, London, 23 June 2004, lot 252.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE SWISS COLLECTOR


    Literature

    The artist's handlist, vol. IV, no. 522.
    'Kandinsky', in Derrière le Miroir, nos. 60-61, Paris, October-November 1953, no. 24.
    W. Grohmann, Wassily Kandinsky, Life and Work, London, 1959, no. 369, p. 338 (illustrated p. 380).
    'Kandinsky, Bauhaus de Dessau 1927-1933', in Derrière le Miroir, no. 154, Paris, November 1965 (illustrated).
    H.K. Roethel & J.K. Benjamin, Kandinsky, Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil-Paintings, Volume Two 1916-1944, London, 1984, no. 967 (illustrated p. 879).


    Exhibited

    Berlin, Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, 1931, no. 60.
    New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, 1948, no. 13.
    Paris, Galerie Maeght, Kandinsky, October - November 1953, no. 24. Paris, Galerie Maeght, Kandinsky: Bauhaus de Dessau, 1927-1933, November 1965.
    New York, Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, Kandinsky, The Bauhaus Years, April - May 1966, no. 40 (illustrated).
    Baden-Baden, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Wassily Kandinsky, Gemälde 1900-1944, July - September 1970, no. 107 (illustrated).
    Paris, Galerie Karl Flinker, Kandinsky, peintures, dessins, gravures, éditions, oeuvres inédites, November - December 1972, no. 20.
    Shimane, Matsue City Culture Center, The Passage of Modern European Art, 1994, no. 39.