'I do not see the difference between a so-called "abstract" line and a fish, but an essential similarity' (Wassily Kandinsky, 'Line and Fish', 1935, in Peter Vergo, ed. Wassily Kandinsky: Complete Writings on Art, New York, 1982, p. 774).
Untitled is a distinctive work from Kandinsky's last years in Paris. Executed in 1940, at a time of great uncertainty and austerity caused by the war and the ensuing Nazi Occupation, this painting, like all of Kandinsky's works from this period, reveals little of the hardships he and his wife Nina underwent in Neuilly-Sur-Seine at this time. Instead, like many of Kandinsky's paintings from this last phase of his career, it shows the artist reveling in the unique abstract language of forms, ciphers and signs that he had created throughout the 1930s. As many critics had observed of Kandinsky's art of this period, in Paris, the abstract forms of his pictorial lexicon often began, at this time, to also develop a strange figurative recognisability.
For so long characterised by the straight lines and harsh geometry that typified the work of the Bauhaus, in Paris, Kandinsky's language had developed a mysterious and often organic-based nature. Amoeba-like forms and embryonic shapes began to form semi-distinct characters and unique, separate hieroglyphic patterns of form, hinting at a mysterious code or hidden glyphic language - one that seemed suspended halfway between the two worlds of figuration and abstraction.
With canvas extremely scarce during the war and the Kandinskys impoverished throughout this period, most of the artist's last paintings were executed on sheets of coloured cardboard that he had managed to acquire. This work belongs to a series of paintings executed on black cardboard and seemingly depicts a dialogue between a strange amorphous figure atop a tower of cubes and a strange elevated form seemingly flying or floating past. A pictorial manifestation of Kandinsky's belief that not only all painting but also all of nature is in essence abstract, and that phenomenal 'figurative' reality, is but a surface manifestation of this fundamental truth, the ambiguous forms of this work seem to assert themselves as grammatical elements of a new pictorial language existing half way between the two. 'Ask yourself' Kandinsky wrote, 'if a work has surreptitiously taken you away into a world thus far unknown to you. If so, what more do you want' (Kandinsky quoted in H.K. Roethel and J. Benjamin, Kandinsky, London, 1979, p. 160).