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Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)
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Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)


Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)
signed with the monogram and dated 'K29' (lower left); dated and inscribed 'No.343 1929 "Strahlen"' (on the reverse of the mount)
watercolour, pen and ink and Spritztechnik on paper
21¼ x 13 5/8 in. (54 x 34.5 cm.)
Executed in April 1929
J.B. Neumann, New York, by November 1935.
Nierendorf Gallery, New York.
Galka E. Scheyer, Los Angeles, until 1945.
Milton Wichner, Los Angeles, until 1950.
Anonymous sale, Christie's, New York, 1 May 1996, lot 192.
Anonymous sale, Christie's, London, 28 June 2001, lot 498.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
The Artist's Handlist, no. 'iv 1929, 343, Strahlen/Rayons'.
V. Endicott-Barnett, Kandinsky Watercolours, Catalogue raisonné, vol. II, 1922-1944, New York, 1994, no. 934 (illustrated p. 250).
V. Endicott-Barnett & J. Helfenstein (ed.), The Blue Four - Feininger, Jawlensky, Kandinsky and Klee in the New World, Cologne 1997, no. 90 (illustrated p. 205).
Saarbrücken, Staatliches Museum, Kollektiv-Ausstellung Wassily Kandinsky, January - February 1930, no. 32.
London, The Mayor Gallery, International Exhibition: A Survey of Contemporary Art, October 1933.
New York, New Art Circle [J.B. Neumann], Vasily Kandinsky, February 1936, no. 5.
Boston, The Institute of Modern Art, Contemporary German Art, November - December 1939, no. 23.
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Lot Essay

Strahlen was executed by Kandinsky in 1929, during his time at the Bauhaus. Being a leading theoretician and a trail-blazer of the avant-garde, Kandinsky's main interest lay in the relationship of colour and form. Kandinsky was responsible for the classes of 'analytical drawing' and 'abstract elements of form' and had set up the class of 'free painting' in 1927, in collaboration with his friend and fellow professor at the art school, Paul Klee. During the Bauhaus years, Kandinsky painstakingly researched new ways of broadening the means of his expression into new areas of abstraction. Towards this end, his drawings, studies and watercolours are invariably exact, and in structure and expression equivalent to his paintings, although not everything in the former proved usable in the latter. The spatter technique (Spritztechnik) for example, which from 1927 onwards can be seen frequently in works on paper by Kandinsky and Klee, was never adopted in their oil paintings.

One shape, which reoccurs frequently in Kandinsky's oeuvre, and which is the dominating feature in Strahlen is the circle. '... it relates to cosmic' Kandinsky explains, '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 on 12 October 1930).

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