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    Sale 7737

    Impressionist/Modern Day Sale (immediately following Impressionist/Modern Works on Paper)

    24 June 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 301

    Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)


    Price Realised  


    Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)
    signed with the monogram and dated '30' (lower left); signed again with the monogram, dated and inscribed 'No 517 1930 "Streifen"' (on the reverse)
    oil on cardboard
    19 1/8 x 6 3/8 in. (48.5 x 16.1 cm.)
    Painted in June 1930

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    The vibrant colours and abstract forms of Streifen epitomise the artistic theories that occupied Wassily Kandinsky during the last years of the Bauhaus. On the small and intense scale typical of the period at Dessau, the theories of colour and form enunciated in Gelb-Rot-Blau (Yellow-Red-Blue) 1925 (Musée National d'Art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris), are made stark: the three primary colours are at the heart of the composition, with their variants pink, green and white subtly superimposed on the red, traces of which intentionally show through the thickly applied oil.

    In the colour charts Kandinsky included in Point and Line to Plane and in assignments he gave to his students at the Bauhaus, yellow and blue are represented as polar opposites. In accordance with the colour theories first expressed by the artist in his book Concerning the Spiritual in Art, 1911, red is the colour that unites the two: 'The eye is strongly attracted by light, clear colours, and still more strongly attracted by those colours which are warm as well as clear; vermilion has the charm of flame, which has always attracted human beings. Keen lemon-yellow hurts the eye in time as a prolonged and shrill trumpet-note the ear, and the gazer turns away to seek relief in blue or green (Wassily Kandinsky, M. T. Sadler (tr.), Concerning the Spiritual in Art, London, 2001, II.v). Thus in the present work red saturates the canvas as a background to yellow and its counterpart, the cold half circles of blue.

    While stripes lend the work its title, it is the pulsating circle of yellow that is at the centre of the composition and of Kandinskys interests in form at the Bauhaus. In a letter to Grohmann written in the same year as Streifen was painted, Kandinsky explained his reason for his preoccupation with the shape: 'it relates to the cosmic... But in the first place I use it in a formal sense... Why am I captivated by the circle? Because it is: 1) the most modest form, yet recklessly affirming itself, 2) precise, yet inexhaustibly variable, 3) stable and unstable at the same time, 4) quiet and noisy at the same time, 5) a tenseness embodying innumerable energies. The circle is a synthesis of the greatest contrasts. It combines in one balanced form the concentric and the eccentric movements. Between the three primary forms (triangle, square, circle) it is the clearest indication of the fourth dimension (Letter to Grohmann, 12 October 1930).

    Special Notice

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


    Gustav Knauer, Berlin (no. 8747).
    Möller, Basel.
    Max Bill, Zurich, and thence by descent to the present owner.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that the provenance in the catalogue is incorrect and should read as follows:
    The artist, until 1944.
    Nina Kandinsky, by descent from the above.
    Max Bill, by whom acquired from the above in 1945, and thence by descent to the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text



    The Artist's Handlist, vol. IV, no. 517.
    W. Grohmann, Wassily Kandinsky, Life & Work, New York, 1958, p. 338 (illustrated no. 366, p. 379).
    H.K. Roethel & J.K. Benjamin, Kandinsky, Catalogue raisonné of the Oil-Paintings, vol. II, 1916-1944, London, 1984, no. 962 (illustrated p. 875).


    Berlin, Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, 1931, no. 58.
    Basel, Kunsthalle, Memorial Exhibition, 1945, no. 44.
    London, Marlborough Fine Art, Painters of the Bauhaus, March - April 1962, no. 85, p. 47.
    Baden-Baden, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Wassily Kandinsky, Gemälde 1900-1944, July - September 1970, no. 103 (illustrated).
    Lugano, Museo Cantonale d'Arte, Kandinsky nelle Collezione Svizzere, June - October 1995, no. 52 (illustrated p. 211).