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    Sale 12147

    Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

    17 November 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 1323

    Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)


    Price Realised  


    Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)
    signed in Cyrillic (lower left); titled 'Spitzingsee' (on the reverse)
    oil on canvasboard
    9 ½ x 12 3/8 in. (24 x 32 cm.)
    Painted in 1901

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    Spitzingsee is a rare, early work by Kandinsky that epitomizes his innovations in the Neo-Impressionist style and anticipates his exploration with luminous color as a future member of the Blaue Reiter. In 1901, Kandinsky produced a small number of oil paintings depicting Munich and its environs including this picturesque lake in the foothills of the Alps. Working primarily in oil and in small format, Kandinsky worked to capture the atmosphere and ambience of the lake and surrounding landscape. The paintings Kandinsky created in the south of Germany show the artist in early maturity. Heavily influenced by the Neo-Impressionist techniques with which he had been experimenting, the thick impasto of his paintings has grown so intense that they become almost over-laden with color.
    Kandinsky joined the Munich Academy in 1900 to take classes taught by Franz von Stuck. He soon, however, left his academic studies to become a founding member of the Phalanx group in Schwabing at the end of May 1901. Phalanx operated as both a school and a gallery aiming to move away from the traditional conservatism of the academy by teaching and exhibiting a more avant-garde approach to art (fig. 1). Kandinsky became president of the society later that year and planned most of the exhibitions, including one of the first exhibitions of Monet's work in Munich.
    Kandinsky's works of 1901 mainly consist of small oil studies completed en plein air. The artist wrote in his Rückblicke: "If the weather was at all decent, I would paint every day for an hour or two" (quoted in V.E. Barnett, Vasily Kandinsky, A Colorful Life, New York, 1996, p. 45). These plein-air studies, executed with paint taken directly from the tube, show the growing influence of Monet's sense of light and Signac's stylistic technique on the artist. In the present work, his use of the palette knife to apply the paint in thickly worked and textured strokes infuses it with an expressive weight of color that, in its immediacy and simplicity, seems to be on the point of breaking down his rigorously constructed composition, anticipating the artist's move towards abstraction.

    (fig. 1) The artist with his Phalanx pupils in Kochel in 1902. Gabriele Münter is to his left.


    Private collection, Sweden (by 1982).
    Kerstan collection, Germany.
    Varena Bolinder (1997).
    By descent from the above to the present owner.


    H.K. Roethel and J.K. Benjamin, Kandinsky, Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil-Paintings, London, 1982, vol. I, p. 56, no. 10 (illustrated).


    Berlin, Brücke-Museum and Kunsthalle Tübingen, Der frühe Kandinsky, 1900-1910, September 1994-February 1995, no. 2 (illustrated in color).
    Museum am Ostwall, Von der Brücke zum Blauen Reiter, Farbe, Form und Ausdruck in der deutschen Kunst von 1905 bis 1914, September-December 1996.