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Ohne Titel

Ohne Titel
signed with the monogram and dated '19' (lower left); dated and numbered '1919 No 5' (on the reverse)
pen and ink on paper
14 x 11 3/8 in. (35.5 x 29 cm.)
Executed in 1919
Kikunosuke Ishimoto, Tokyo, by 1925.
Private collection, Sweden.
(Probably) Michel Tapié, Paris.
Galerie Berggruen & Cie, Paris, by whom acquired from the above in 1960.
Walter Bareiss, Greenwich, Connecticut, by whom acquired from the above in 1961.
Wolfgang Wittrock, Dusseldorf, as agent for the above.
Acquired from the above on 19 June 1985.
T. Murayama, Kandinsky, Tokyo, 1925 (illustrated).
V. Endicott Barnett, Kandinsky Drawings, Catalogue Raisonné, vol. I, Individual Drawings, Munich, 2006, no. 474, p. 238 (illustrated p. 337).
(Probably) Tokyo, Marzen Bookshop, European Expressionists, June 1924, no. 16.
Munich, Galerie Stangl, Wassily Kandinsky: Ausstellung mit Werken von 1918 bis 1933, July - September 1962, n.p. (illustrated).
Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie, Sammlung Walter Bareiss, Handzeichnungen, Aquarelle und Collagen, Summer 1965, n.p. (illustrated pl. 12; titled 'Abstrakte Komposition'); this exhibition later travelled to Munich, Neue Staatsgalerie, Summer 1965, p. 28 (illustrated pl. 12; titled 'Abstrakte Komposition').
Kassel, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Sammlung Walter Bareiss, Handzeichnungen, Aquarelle und Collagen, 1967, p. 18 (illustrated pl. 12; titled 'Abstrakte Komposition').
Weimar, Kunsthalle am Theaterplatz, Bauhaus-Künstler: Malerei und Graphik aus den Beständen der Kunstsammlungen zu Weimar und der Deutschen Bank, July - August 1993, no. 52, p. 67 (illustrated; titled 'Ohne Titel (Abstrakte Komposition)'); this exhibition later travelled to Wiesbaden, Museum Wiesbaden, September - November 1993; and Dessau, Bauhaus, December 1993 - January 1994.
Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle, Auf Papier: Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts aus der Deutschen Bank, March - April 1995, no. 78, p. 144 (illustrated p. 145); this exhibition later travelled to Berlin, Landesmuseum für Moderne Kunst, May - July 1995; and Leipzig, Museum der bildenden Künste, August - September 1995.
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Sale room notice
Please note this work is dated and numbered '1919 No 5' on the reverse.

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Micol Flocchini Head of Works on Paper Sale

Lot Essay

With the outbreak of World War One, Kandinsky left Germany in August 1914 and, having spent several months in Switzerland with Gabriele Münter, he reached Russia in December where he would stay until 1921.
After a brief sojourn in Sweden, where he met and married fellow Russian Nina de Andreevsky, before returning to Moscow, Kandinsky had dallied briefly with the sugary fantasy of his Bagatelles. This complete abandonment of his pioneering abstraction of recent years in favour a whimsical and joyous figuration, was a return to the Russian fairytale imagery of his roots - a step back into familiar territory perhaps, as made by so many artists immediately following a great breakthrough, before moving on again.

In Russia, after the Revolution, Kandinsky, as a leading member of the revolutionary avant-garde, worked closely alongside other such luminaries as Kasimir Malevich, Alexander Rodchenko and Vladimir Tatlin in the establishment of a number of art schools and institutes and, in June 1919, he was appointed as the director of the Museum for Artistic Culture in Moscow. Kandinsky differed strongly with these revolutionary artists, however, in his insistence on keeping such personal and irrational elements as intuition and lyrical expression as the cornerstones of his own creativity. These differences with his Russian peers are perhaps the reason why Kandinsky's abstraction, at this time, did not, as one might expect it to have, adapt itself to the severe reductivism of the two then prevailing aesthetics of Suprematism and Constructivism. In direct contrast, in fact, Kandinsky preferred to assert a joyous Expressionistic lyricism and even partial figuration, that both reflected and expressed his own particularly happy state of mind following his marriage and the birth of his son. 'I felt that my old dream was closer to coming true' he wrote to his ex-partner Gabrielle Münter around this time, the dream 'of painting a big picture expressing joy, the happiness of life and the universe. Suddenly I feel the harmony of colours and forms that come from this world of joy' (W. Kandinsky, 'Letter to Gabriele Münter', quoted in H. Düchting, Wassily Kandinsky 1866-1944, Cologne, 2000, p. 59).

This return to his homeland prompted a re-evaluation of the more tentative steps he had made towards complete abstraction in his own work and for a brief period prompted a change in his style. Over the next few years Kandinsky's life underwent a radical and fundamental change.

Writing about the development of his art during the years spent in his native country, Clark Poling comments: 'Viewed from the perspective of his entire career, the seven years Kandinsky spent in Russia occasioned a transition in his art, from the expressionist abstraction of the immediately preceding Munich years to the geometric style of his Bauhaus period. A parallel shift in his theoretical work began to occur in Russia, as he increasingly emphasized the objective characteristics of formal elements and the principles of their use. […] The new qualities in his painting are first seen in works from 1919 to 1921, which show a reduction of expressionist handling of forms and a gradual absorption of the geometric elements and structural principles of Russian avant-garde art. At the same time, Kandinsky sought to maintain what he saw as artistic freedom and expressive content by preserving the complexity and some of the irregular forms and associative imagery of his earlier art' (C. Poling, Kandinsky, Bauhaus and Russian Years, exh. cat., The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1983, p. 14).

This transition is visible in the present work, Ohne Titel, one of a series of works from this period: some degree of association with nature still exists in an allusion to a landscape, most notably in the shape of a mountain on the right of the composition, and a curved line of the horizon on the left, and what could be read as trees and hills. Whilst still recognisable from his early works, these elements have become increasingly abstract and geometricised. Kandinsky's compositions of this period gradually abandon the sense of gravity, heralding the purely abstract compositions of his Bauhaus years.

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