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Thema: Spitz

Thema: Spitz
signed with monogram and dated 'K27' (lower left); signed again with monogram, titled, dated again and numbered 'K "Thema:Spitz" 1927 no. 381' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas in artist's original frame
31 3/8 x 22 3/8 in. (89.7 x 57 cm.)
Painted in February 1927
Galerie Maeght, Paris.
Anon. sale, Christie's, New York, 10 November 1987, lot 45.
The Artist's Handlist, vol. IV, no. 381.
W. Grohmann, Wassily Kandinsky, Life and Work, New York, 1958, p. 336, no. 381 (illustrated, p. 370, fig. 249).
H.K. Roethel and J.K. Benjamin, Kandinsky, Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, New York, 1984, vol. 2, p. 767, no. 824 (illustrated).
Paris, Galerie Maeght, Kandinsky: Bauhaus de Dessau, 1927-1933, November 1965, no. 2 (illustrated; catalogue reproduced in Derrière le miroir, 1965).
New York, Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, Kandinsky, The Bauhaus Years, April-May 1966, no. 20 (illustrated in color).
Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Hommage de Paris à Kandinsky: La conquête de l'abstraction, l'époque parisienne, June-July 1972, no. 10 (illustrated in color).
Tokyo, The Seibu Museum of Art, Wassily Kandinsky, 1976, no. 18 (illustrated).
Madrid, Fondacíon Juan March and Seville, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Kandinsky, 1923-1944, October 1978-January 1979, no. 9 (illustrated).

Lot Essay

In 1925, the Bauhaus moved to Dessau where Kandinsky was to live and work until 1932. During this time Kandinsky entered a long period of artistic exploration in which he was able to resolve many of his theories about form and color, and eventually to perfect his exercise of geometric abstraction. Reflecting the increasingly architectural and technological orientation of the Bauhaus, as well as the constructivist movement in Germany, Kandinsky created carefully structured images made up of simple geometric elements.

Thema Spitz belongs to a select group of works painted between 1926 and 1928 in which inverted triangular forms, or cones, are the most striking element. His use of these sharp triangular forms, balanced precariously on the points of their acute corners over semi-circular discs, creates a sense of dynamic movement within the composition. Kandinsky continues to challenge our visual interpretation of this work through the juxtaposition of these flattened, two dimensional forms against the slanting planes of color in the background which seem to recede into three dimentional space.

Kandinsky's always sophisticated use of color plays an essential role in this highly intellectual exploration of spatial ambiguities. "When Kandinsky overlaps one form with another he creates the illusion that the overlapping form is semi-transparent because the colour of the form is modified by the form that overlaps it...Kandinsky deliberately does not make the resulting colour always that which one would expect according to the principles of mixture of colour pigments. The overlapping form acts as a sort of filter rather on the principle of filters used in photography, but the colours are not arrived at according to any known rules. We are made to feel that Kandinsky's imaginary pictorial world works according to physical laws that are different from those of the visual world, or even the visual field" (P. Overy, Kandinsky, The Language of the Eye, London, 1969, p. 108).

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